M. Schaan, H. Jaksche

December 2000, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 135 - 140 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860000197

First Online: 15 December 2000

Post-traumatic syringomyelia (PTS) is a relatively rare, but potentially disastrous, complication of spinal cord injury. Operative treatment by shunting procedures often shows only a short-term improvement, and the rate of recurrence of syringomyelia is high, so different treatment modalities have been used in the last years. The various results are discussed in this analysis. A prospective clinical study was conducted of 30 patients with PTS treated by shunting procedures or with pseudomeningocele over a period of 9 years, and followed with regular clinical and magnetic resonance imaging examinations. Shunting procedures like syringosubarachnoid and syringopleural or -peritoneal shunting showed good results only at the first follow-ups. In our department, we perform an artificial liquor reservoir at the level of the lesion after opening the spinal pathways and arachnoid adhesions at that level. This procedure was performed in 12 patients. Five of these had been previously operated by shunting procedures; all of them had suffered a recurrence of syringomyelia because of internal occlusion. In the group of patients treated by shunting procedures, a neurological improvement was be recorded in five, and a steady state in eight. Five patients showed a further deterioration. The performance of an artificial liquor reservoir to guarantee a free flow of cerebro-spinal fluid around the lesion resulted in a neurological improvement in ten patients, with two maintaining a steady state. Our experience is that shunting procedures often show a neurological improvement only in the short term; the rate of recurrence of typical shunting complications is high. The performance of a pseudomeningocele is an encouraging new step in the treatment of PTS. Further long-term follow-up studies are necessary to assess the benefits of this new method.

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