Noncommunicating syringomyelia following occlusion of central canal in rats. Experimental model and histological findings

J Neurosurg. 1993 Feb;78(2):274-9. doi: 10.3171/jns.1993.78.2.0274.


This report describes a new and reliable technique for producing experimental noncommunicating syringomyelia. In 30 rats, 1.2 to 1.6 microliters of kaolin was microinjected into the dorsal columns and central gray matter of the spinal cord at C-6. The inoculations caused transient neurological deficits in four animals and no deficits in 26 animals. Within 24 hours, kaolin and polymorphonuclear leukocytes entered the central canal and drained rostrally. The clearance of inflammatory products induced a proliferation of ependymal cells and periependymal fibrous astrocytes, which formed synechiae and obstructed the canal at the level of injection and at one or more levels up to C-1. In 22 animals followed for 48 hours or longer, the upper end of the central canal became acutely dilated and formed an ependyma-lined syrinx that enlarged to massive dimensions within 6 weeks. The rostral syrinxes did not communicate with the fourth ventricle and were not associated with hydrocephalus. The histological findings in acute noncommunicating syringomyelia were characterized by progressive stretching and thinning of the ependyma, elongation of intracanalicular septae, and the formation of periependymal edema. After 3 weeks, there was progressive compression of the periependymal tissues associated with stretching of axons, fragmentation of myelin sheaths, and the formation of myelin droplets. These findings and the sequence in which they evolved were identical in most respects to those occurring in acute and subacute noncommunicating hydrocephalus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Ependyma / pathology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Kaolin / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Syringomyelia / pathology*
  • Syringomyelia / physiopathology


  • Kaolin