Shunting of Syringomyelic Cavities by Using a Myringotomy Tube: Technical Note and Long-Term Results

World Neurosurg. 2017 Feb:98:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2016.10.067. Epub 2016 Oct 21.


Background: Syringomyelia is a progressive cerebrospinal fluid disorder that can lead to irreversible spinal cord injury. To date, the optimal management of syringomyelic cavities remains controversial. Multiple studies have emphasized the importance of the craniocervical decompression or shunting procedures; however, except for syrinx related to Chiari malformation, nearly one-half of patients need to undergo reoperation. The purpose of the present study was to describe a simple and efficient surgical technique and to report the long-term radioclinical outcomes.

Material and methods: We report a series of 17 consecutive patients (10 male, 7 female) with symptomatic syringomyelia treated by myringotomy tube between January 1999 and January 2014. The mean follow-up was 43.6 months (5-118). For each case, a laminectomy was carried out at the level of the most expanded part of the syrinx. The myringotomy tube was then placed through a puncture myelotomy.

Results: Clinical examination showed disappearance of symptoms in 3 cases, a significant improvement in 8 cases, stabilization in 5 patients, and continuation of neurologic deterioration in 1 case. Thus, favorable long-term outcomes were observed in two-thirds of patients. No permanent postoperative complication was reported. The postoperative imaging showed complete or almost complete disappearance of the syrinx in 11 cases and a reduction over 80% in 4 cases. In 2 cases, the cavity remained stable. Moreover, just 2 patients had to undergo reoperation with the placement of a syringoperitoneal shunt.

Conclusion: A myringotomy tube is a simple surgical technique that seems to be an efficient and safe treatment for syringomyelic cavities.

Keywords: Complications; Long-term follow-up; Myringotomy tube; Syringomyelia; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunts / instrumentation*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunts / methods*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / instrumentation*
  • Syringomyelia / diagnostic imaging
  • Syringomyelia / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult