Slitlike syrinx cavities: a persistent central canal.


OBJECT The authors review their experience in the diagnosis and management of 32 patients with slitlike syrinx cavities. METHODS There were 18 men and 14 women with a mean age of 40 years. Presenting symptoms that prompted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evaluation were mechanical spinal pain (13 patients), radicular pain (seven patients), paresthesia (six patients), numbness (five patients), and muscle spasm (one patient). In 12 patients neurological examination demonstrated normal status, and in the remainder only minimal sensory or motor abnormalities were found. The mean diameter of the syrinx cavity was 2 mm (range 1-5 mm), and on average it covered three vertebral levels. The cavities were limited to the cervical region in 16 patients, the thoracic in 12, and both regions in four patients. The mean follow-up time for changes in clinical condition and repeated MR imaging features were 38 and 32 months, respectively. Thirty-one patients were treated nonoperatively, and one was treated surgically. During the follow-up period clinical improvement was documented in six patients, worsened status in seven, and no change was demonstrated in the clinical status of 19 patients. None of the syrinx cavities changed in size. In 16 patients medical workup revealed alternative diagnoses that were determined to be the true causes of each patient's symptoms. CONCLUSIONS Slitlike cavities likely do not represent true syringomyelia but rather remnants of the central canal detected in a small percentage of adults. Review of the authors' experience indicates that these cavities are asymptomatic and are unlikely to change in size. They can be considered an incidental finding, and in many of these patients another condition explaining the patient's symptoms may be found.

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@article{Holly2002SlitlikeSC, title={Slitlike syrinx cavities: a persistent central canal.}, author={Langston T. Holly and Ulrich Batzdorf}, journal={Journal of neurosurgery}, year={2002}, volume={97 2 Suppl}, pages={161-5} }