tag tag 9177935658

Over One Billion Recovered

Free Confidential Case Review, No Fees Unless We Recover For You

(212) 779-0057

What Is Syringomyelia?

If you've been injured in an accident or on the job, the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP have the knowledge, skills, and experience required to hold the party responsible for your injury accountable.

Last Updated: 05-16-2024

When a person sustains a traumatic injury to their back, they could possibly develop spinal cord injuries and then have to ask, What is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is a rare and potentially serious condition characterized by the formation of a fluid-filled cyst, known as a syrinx, within or around the spinal cord. This cyst can expand and elongate over time, causing damage to the spinal cord and leading to a variety of neurological symptoms. Understanding syringomyelia is crucial for those affected, as early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes.

If an injured individual develops this condition, it can not only cause severe pain, but also lifelong disabilities that with traumatic effects. If you have been developed syringomyelia due to an injury because of someone else’s negligence you may be due compensation. Call Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 or contact us online for a free consultation. In the meantime, check out what our clients have to say and the settlement results we have won for past clients.

Risk Factors & Causes of Syringomyelia

The exact cause of syringomyelia is not always clear, but it can be associated with several conditions, including:

  • Chiari Malformation: A condition where brain tissue extends into the spinal canal.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Trauma to the spinal cord can lead to the development of a syrinx.
  • Tumors: Growths in the spinal cord can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), leading to syringomyelia.
  • Meningitis: Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord can obstruct CSF flow.
  • Arachnoiditis: Inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, can also be a contributing factor.

Symptoms of Syringomyelia

Symptoms of syringomyelia can vary widely depending on the size and location of the syrinx. Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic Pain: Especially in the neck, shoulders, arms, and back.
  • Weakness: Loss of muscle strength, particularly in the hands and arms.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness in the back and extremities.
  • Sensory Loss: Reduced sensitivity to pain and temperature, especially in the hands.
  • Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction: Problems with urinary and bowel control can occur as the condition progresses.

Syringomyelia Diagnosis

Diagnosing syringomyelia typically involves a combination of clinical evaluation and imaging studies. The primary diagnostic tool is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provides detailed images of the spinal cord and can reveal the presence and extent of a syrinx. Additional tests may include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: To detect any associated bony abnormalities.
  • Neurological Examination: To assess the extent of neurological deficits.

Syringomyelia Treatment Options

Treatment for syringomyelia aims to alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage to the spinal cord. The appropriate approach depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Options include:

Surgical Intervention

Surgical intervention is often necessary for patients with syringomyelia to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and improve the normal flow through of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). There are several types of surgical procedures that may be performed:

  1. Decompression Surgery for Chiari Malformation: If syringomyelia is caused by a Chiari malformation, decompression surgery can help. This procedure involves removing a small section of bone at the back of the skull to create more space for the brain and spinal cord, which can restore normal CSF flow and reduce the syrinx.
  2. Syrinx Drainage: Directly draining the syrinx can relieve pressure and reduce the size of the cyst. This is typically done through a procedure called a syringostomy, where a small incision is made in the syrinx to allow fluid to drain.
  3. Tumor Removal: If a spinal tumor is causing the syrinx, removing the tumor can alleviate the blockage of CSF flow and reduce the syrinx.
  4. Duraplasty: This involves expanding the covering of the spinal cord (the dura) to create more space for CSF flow, which can help reduce the size of the syrinx.

Shunt Placement

Shunt placement is a surgical procedure used to divert fluid from the syrinx to another part of the body where it can be absorbed. There are different types of shunts that can be used:

  1. Syringosubarachnoid Shunt: This shunt diverts fluid from the syrinx to the subarachnoid space, a cavity around the brain and spinal cord where CSF circulates.
  2. Syringopleural Shunt: This shunt diverts fluid from the syrinx to the pleural cavity in the chest, where it can be absorbed.
  3. Syringoperitoneal Shunt: This shunt diverts fluid from the syrinx to the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen, allowing the fluid to be absorbed by the body.

Shunt placement can help manage symptoms by reducing the pressure within central canal of the syrinx and preventing further spinal cord damage.


In some cases, particularly when the syrinx is small and not causing significant symptoms, a conservative approach of regular monitoring may be recommended. This involves:

  1. Regular MRI Scans: To track changes in the size and shape of the syrinx.
  2. Neurological Examinations: To monitor for any new or worsening symptoms.
  3. Symptom Management: Utilizing pain management strategies and physical therapy to address any mild symptoms that may arise.

Doctors typically choose observation when surgery’s risks outweigh its potential benefits, and the patient can manage symptoms with non-invasive measures.

Complications from Syringomyelia

Syringomyelia can advance over time to cause particularly serious health problems that may be difficult to treat in some cases. These health complications may include the following:

  • Severe or chronic pain
  • Loss of feeling, often in the hands
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty controlling body temperature and sweating
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Bladder stones
  • Speech loss due to vocal cord paralysis
  • Shoulder joint degeneration

This condition may not develop for months, if not years, after the initial injury has occurred. However, as the cyst in the brain stem spinal cord grows larger, the effects of the condition can grow more severe.

Living With Syringomyelia

Living with syringomyelia can be challenging, but with the right support and treatment, many people can manage their symptoms effectively. To develop a comprehensive care plan, it is important to work closely with a team of healthcare providers, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, and physical therapists.

Contact a Syringomyelia Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Today

If you have been diagnosed and are asking, What is syringomyelia? If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with syringomyelia after someone else’s negligence, a spinal cord injury attorney at Hach & Rose, LLP believes the party responsible for this injury should be held accountable for the ensuing repercussions. They may owe you financial compensation for the injuries and losses you have sustained.

To discuss this legal action in further detail with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, call (212) 779-0057 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our legal team works on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay unless you win.

Syringomyelia FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Can syringomyelia be cured?

There is currently no cure for syringomyelia, but treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent any further spinal cord injury or damage. Early diagnosis and appropriate intervention are crucial for better outcomes.

Is syringomyelia a life-threatening condition?

While syringomyelia itself is not typically life-threatening, it can lead to severe complications damage the spinal cord if left untreated. Progressive damage to the spinal cord can result in significant neurological deficits, affecting quality of life.

Can syringomyelia be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent syringomyelia, especially since it can result from congenital conditions like Chiari malformation. However, early detection and treatment of underlying conditions neurological disorders that can lead to syringomyelia may help reduce the risk.

How common is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is a rare condition. Estimates suggest that syringomyelia affects approximately 8.4 people per 100,000, though its exact prevalence remains unclear.

What should I do if I suspect I have syringomyelia?

If you experience symptoms associated with syringomyelia, such as chronic pain, weakness, or sensory loss, it is important to seek medical attention. A healthcare provider can perform the necessary diagnostic tests and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Can I lead a normal life with syringomyelia?

Many individuals with syringomyelia can manage their symptoms with proper treatment and lead fulfilling lives. Working closely with healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive care plan is key to managing the condition effectively.

Conversion Pixel