Study design: An 18-year-old patient with "idiopathic" adolescent scoliosis is presented. A thoracic syrinx was detected as an incidental finding during magnetic resonance imaging of the spine.
Objectives: Syringomyelia may be a risk factor for neurologic injury during correction of scoliosis, and in these cases, spinal cord monitoring may be of particular value.
Background data: Spinal distraction and instrumentation carry a risk of neurologic damage in patients with scoliosis and associated syringomyelia. Syringomyelia is a cause of scoliosis, and although neurologic problems are the usual symptom, scoliosis may be the only sign at initial examination. A higher risk of neurologic injury has been reported in corrective surgical treatment of patients with syringomyelia. The mechanism of cord damage is unclear. Monitoring of spinal cord function is recommended to detect intraoperative neurological injury, which may be reversed on removing distraction and implants.
Results: Intraoperative somatosensory-evoked potential (SSEP) spinal cord monitoring detected possible cord damage during outrigger distraction. Reduction of distraction led to a recovery of SSEPs and a satisfactory operative outcome.
Conclusion: Syringomyelia may be a risk factor for neurologic injury during correction of scoliosis, and SSEP spinal cord monitoring may identify and prevent intraoperative spinal cord injury.