Henrik C. Bäcker, Jacob Bock, Peter Turner, Michael A. Johnson, John Cunningham, Patrick Chan, Richard Gerraty

June 2022, pp 1 - 12 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07279-8

First Online: 21 June 2022


Hirayama syndrome is likely caused by a forward displacement of the posterior dura during cervical flexion leading to changes in the muscles of the fingers and wrist. The aim of this systematic review was to document the number of reported cases, the necessity of dynamic MRI of the cervical spine and the subsequent treatment.

Methods and materials

A systematic review was conducted and the Pubmed/Medbase, Cochrane, Google, Embase and Ovid database were searched for (Hirayama) AND ((disease) OR (syndrome)). A total of 42 studies were included for analysis reporting 2311 patients.


The mean age was 20.2 ± 2.26 years and predominantly males (92.8%) were identified. On MRI the “snake eyes” appearance of the spinal cord was present in 27.8% and the typical time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis was 41.5 ± 16.4 months. A variety of different treatments have been reported, although there is no substantial evidence that any of them are superior to observation.


The delay in diagnosis from initial presentation of symptoms shows that this condition may be underdiagnosed in a variety of cases. Further, this study shows the necessity of either a dynamic MRI in flexion or a static MRI scan in neutral position and in flexion, to identify functional spinal and/or foraminal stenosis for a prompt diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

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