Objective: To determine the long-term outcome of surgically treated Chiari-related syringomyelia.
Methods: The medical charts of 157 consecutive surgically treated patients with Chiari-related syringomyelia were retrospectively analyzed. Factors predicting outcome, either clinical or radiological, are discussed, and our results are compared with those of other large series in the literature.
Results: The study included 74 men and 83 women (age range, 16-75 years; mean age at surgery, 38.3 years). Pain and sensory disturbance were the most frequent initial symptoms. The average duration of preoperative symptoms was 8.2 years. The follow-up period ranged from 82 to 204 months (median, 88 months). At the end of the study, 99 patients (63.06%) had improved, 48 (30.58%) had stabilized, 9 (5.73%) had worsened, and 1 (0.63%) had died during the postoperative period. Factors predicting improvement or stabilization were young age at the time of surgery and clinical signs of paroxysmal intracranial hypertension. Factors associated with a poor outcome were older age at the time of surgery, arachnoiditis, and a clinical feature of long-tract impairment syndrome. The presence of arachnoiditis or of basilar invagination was associated with poor clinical presentation (P = 0.05 and 0.0001, respectively). The extent of the cyst on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging was a predictor of poor clinical outcome (P = 0.002).
Conclusion: Our results confirmed that surgery is an effective and safe treatment of Chiari-related syringomyelia, with a 90% chance of long-term stabilization or improvement on average. Surgery should be proposed as soon as possible in patients with clearly progressing clinical features.