Fourth ventricle to spinal subarachnoid space stenting in pediatric patients with refractory syringomyelia: case series and systematic review

Neurosurg Rev. 2023 Mar 11;46(1):67. doi: 10.1007/s10143-023-01972-y.


A series of 5 patients treated with the fourth ventricle to spinal subarachnoid space stent (FVSSS) is presented. Indication for surgery, surgical technique, pre-operative and post-operative images, and outcome are analyzed. A systematic review of the pertinent literature has also been performed. This is a retrospective cohort review of a series of 5 consecutive patients with refractory syringomyelia who underwent a fourth ventricle to spinal subarachnoid space shunt surgery. The surgical indication was based on the presence of refractory syringomyelia in patients already treated for Chiari malformation or in patients who developed scarring at the level of the outlets of the fourth ventricle following posterior fossa tumor surgery. The mean age at FVSSS was 11.30 ± 5.88 years. Cerebral MRI revealed crowded posterior fossa, with a membrane at the level of the foramen of Magendie. Spinal MRI showed syringomyelia in all patients. Before surgery, the averages of the craniocaudal and the anteroposterior diameter were 22.66 and 1.01 cm, respectively, whereas the volume was 28.16 cm3. The post-operative period was uneventful in 4 out of 5 patients; one child died on the 1st post-operative day due to complications unrelated to surgery. In remaining cases, syrinx marked improvement. The post-operative volume was 1.47 cm3 with an overall reduction of 97.61%. With regard to literature, 7 articles with a total of 43 patients were analyzed. After FVSSS, syringomyelia reduction was observed in 86.04% of cases. Three patients underwent reoperation due to syrinx recurrence. Four patients presented a catheter displacement, one a wound infection and meningitis and one CSF leak requiring placement of a lumbar drain. FVSSS is highly effective in restoring CSF dynamics, with dramatic improvement of syringomyelia. In all our cases, the volume of the syrinx was reduced by at least 90%, with improvement/resolution of accompanying symptomatology. This procedure should be reserved to patients in which other causes of gradient pressure between the fourth ventricle and subarachnoid space are excluded, for example, tetraventricular hydrocephalus. Surgical procedure is not simple, because it requires meticulous microdissection of cerebello-medullary fissure and upper cervical spine, in already operated patients. To avoid migration of the stent, it should be carefully sutured to the dura mater or thick arachnoid membrane.

Keywords: Arachnoiditis; Cranio-cervical junction; Magendie’s foramen debridement; Pediatric; Posterior fossa decompression; Trapped fourth ventricle.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Fourth Ventricle / surgery
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stents / adverse effects
  • Subarachnoid Space / pathology
  • Subarachnoid Space / surgery
  • Syringomyelia* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome