Clinicopathological correlations in syringomyelia using axial magnetic resonance imaging

Neurosurgery. 1995 Aug;37(2):206-13. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199508000-00003.


Axial magnetic resonance (MR) images of non-neoplastic spinal cord cavities were reviewed in 115 patients with otherwise complete neurological and neuroradiological findings. The variations in axial morphology revealed three distinct cavitary patterns. These patterns were as follows: 1) symmetrically enlarged central cavities (28 patients); 2) central cavities that expanded paracentrally in one or more focal areas (36 patients); and 3) eccentric cavities that were off-center, frequently irregular, and sometimes associated with myelomalacia (51 patients). The radiological patterns of spinal cord cavitation correlated well with recently reported histopathological findings that distinguish simple dilations of the central canal, dilations of the central canal that dissect paracentrally, and primary cavitations of the spinal cord parenchyma (extracanalicular syringes). Like histologically confirmed central canal syringes, MR-defined central cavities were associated with pathogenic factors that affect the dynamics of the cerebrospinal fluid, including hindbrain malformations, hydrocephalus, and extramedullary obstructive lesions. Eccentric cavities resembled extracanalicular syringes and occurred typically with disorders that damage spinal cord tissue (e.g., trauma, infarction, meningitis/arachnoiditis, spondylosis/disc herniation, radiation necrosis, and transverse myelitis). Analysis of clinical findings at the time of MR imaging established the following correlations. 1) Symmetrically enlarged central cavities were asymptomatic or produced nonspecific neurological signs. 2) Central cavities that expanded paracentrally were associated with segmental signs referable to the paracentral component. 3) Eccentric cavities produced various combinations of long tract and segmental signs that could usually be related to the level, side, and specific quadrant of spinal cord cavitation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Canal / pathology
  • Spinal Canal / surgery
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / surgery
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / surgery
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Diseases / pathology
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery
  • Syringomyelia / diagnosis*
  • Syringomyelia / pathology
  • Syringomyelia / surgery