Treatment of Syringomyelia After Posttraumatic Paraparesis or Tetraparesis

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This retrospective study of 12 patients with syringomyelia related to spinal cord trauma with paraplegia or tetraplegia and secondary progressive neurologic deficits was conducted to evaluate various surgical treatments. Judging by the results of postoperative neuroradiologic examinations, 75% had incomplete reduction of the spinal fracture at the time of initial surgery. The secondary neurologic deterioration occurred within a delay of 146 ± 16 months and included ascending sensory deficits in 92%, deafferentation pain in 83%, and increased motor weakness in 33%. There was a positive correlation between the severity of symptoms, incomplete reduction of spinal fracture, and the degree of arachnoid scarring in preoperative neuroradiologic examinations. Syringoperitoneal shunting was performed in 83% of patients, and laminectomy with arachnoid lysis and dural grafting were performed in 17%. Pain was improved in 75%, sensory deficits in 25%, and motor weakness in 8%. During the follow-up period of 44 ± 25 months, 30% of patients with syringoperitoneal shunting required repeated operation for obstruction or infection, whereas the syringomyelia remained collapsed in the two patients with laminectomy with arachnoid lysis and dural grafting, but this did not require additional surgery. In conclusion, laminectomy with arachnoid lysis and dural grafting seems to be a promising alternative treatment for patients with secondary neurologic deterioration after traumatic paraplegia or tetraplegia. Syringoperitoneal shunting may be reserved for patients without severe arachnoid scarring.

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