Symptomatic arrhythmias due to syringomyelia-induced severe autonomic dysfunction

Clin Res Cardiol. 2014 Oct;103(10):839-45. doi: 10.1007/s00392-014-0725-z. Epub 2014 May 22.


Syringomyelia is characterized by cavity formation in the spinal cord, most often at C2-Th9 level. Clinical manifestation reflects extent and localization of the spinal cord injury.

Cases: 20-year old woman was admitted for recurrent rest-related presyncopes with sudden manifestation. Paroxysms of sinus bradycardia with SA and AV blocks were repeatedly documented during symptoms. There was normal echocardiographic finding, (para) infectious etiology was not proved. Character of the ECG findings raised suspicion on neurogenic cause. Autonomic nervous system testing demonstrated abnormalities reflecting predominant sympathetic dysfunction. Suspicion on incipient myelopathy was subsequently confirmed by MRI, which discovered syringomyelia at Th5 level as the only pathology. A 52-year old man with hypotrophic quadruparesis resulting from perinatal brain injury was sent for 2-years lasting symptoms (sudden palpitation, sweating, muscle tightness, shaking) with progressive worsening. Symptoms occurred in association with sudden increase of sinus rhythm rate and blood pressure that were provoked by minimal physical activity. Presence of significant autonomic dysregulation with baroreflex hyperreactivity in orthostatic test and symptomatic postural orthostatic tachycardia with verticalization-associated hypertension were proved. MRI revealed syringomyelia at C7 and Th7 level affecting sympathetic centers at these levels. Sympathetic fibers dysfunction at C-Th spinal level may cause significant autonomic dysfunction with arrhythmic manifestation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Syringomyelia / complications*
  • Syringomyelia / diagnosis*
  • Syringomyelia / therapy
  • Young Adult