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Syringomyelia is a dysfuntion of the spinal cord`s central channel. Practically it means the multitude of small voids are filled with liquid in the spinal cord. This disease can affect not only people, but also dogs. Syringomyelia may develop for such breed as cavalier king charles. Syringomyelia itself does not affect the quality of life. Danger lies in possible complications such as sepsis, respiratory center depression and damage of the vagus nerve
Syringomyelia has also such names as Morvan's disease and spinal gliosis. In case when syringomyelia is formed not only in the the spinal cord of the brain, but also around the stem (medulla), the disease is called siringobulbiey.
Previously it was assumed that syringomyelia occurs solely as a result of born abnormalities. However it is proved that syringomyelia can appear as a result of tumors, spinal cord problems, brain trauma and inflammatory processes. Although these diseases are much less common than the congenital ones, currently the term syringomyelia is used not as the name for a single disease, but for a whole group of spinal cord illnesses. Accordingly, it is customary to distinguish the first syringomyelia (with the congenital cause) and the secondary one(appeared under the influence of external factors).
The incidence of Morvan's disease in different countries varies profoundly: in Britain - 8.5 per 100 000 population in Poland - 4.2, in the US - 3.4. In India, China, Japan, Taiwan and Argentina syringomyelia is very rare. In Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia the disease is spread unevenly - from 0.3 to 7.2% in some areas. The disease can be congenital or it can sometimes be acquired as a result of the spinal cord injury, the tuberculous lesion or as a complication of spinal anesthesia during the operation. Congenital form of Morvan's disease often runs in families and affects mostly men aged 30-45 years.
Syringomyelia is not the only disease of embryogenesis. About 80% cases of syringomyelia are developing with with the Arnold Chiari anomaly. It is also possible that syringomyelia exists with the anomalies of Dandy-Walker and unusual shape of head, chin, tip of the tongue and the lower lip, abnormal growth of teeth, malocclusion, unequal size of the eyeballs, "depressed" skull face, dysplasia of ears, protruding forward of chest, scoliosis, kyphosis and kyphoscoliosis. The patients may also have extra nipples, different size breasts, extra ribs, extra fingers and improper structure of the hands and feet).
- Disturbance of auditory and visual sensors
- Loss of sensation in the hands or feet, sometimes on the face (the person does not even feel bruises ot minor injuries)
- Formication and tingling in the skin
- Strong burning pain and twitching in the limbs and torso
- Thinning of the muscles of the limbs and torso(atrophy)
- Eating disorder
- Thinning of the skin
- Sores on the skin (long-term healing process)
- Numbness of fingers
- Sweating or, conversely, excessive skin dryness
- Arthropathy (impaired joint function): this may be causes by pathological fractures
- Sometimes people who have syringomelia suffer from the following body deformations
- Skull may be too high
- Facial asymmetry
- Small eyes
- Split upper lip
- Irregular shape and asymmetry of the ears
- A lot of birthmarks
- Expansion of the saphenous veins
Depending on the level of spinal cord injury there may be dysfunctions of such parts of the spinal cord:
- Posterior horns of the spinal cord
- Front horn of the spinal cord
- Damaged spinal nodes
- Mixed - combines the features of several forms
- Depending on the location there are the following forms of syringomyelia
- Cervical spinal cord
- Thoracic spinal cord
- Lumbosacral spinal cord
- A stem syringomyelia(the bottom part of the brain)
Onset of syringomyelia is usually gradual. Sometimes the symptoms manifest themselves in simple coughing, sneezing and weight loss. As the skin loses its sentitivity, the patients may be causing deep cuts and burns, although such injuries are often ignored by patients as both domestic and mundane, but a pathological insensitivity of the skin is evident in the progression of the disease.
Diagnosis includes the analysis of complaints and medical history. After that the doctor conducts neurological examination which includes:
- Sensitivity assessment (presence or absence of pain due to some external inluence)
- Assessment of the muscle tone
- Inspection of the skin: the presence of scars, ulcers and thinning of the skin
- Electroneuromyographic diagnosis: this method reveales all the signs of spinal cord lesions and disturbance of nerve impulses
- Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of the spinal cord allow the doctor to explore the structure of the layers of the spinal cord and to determine whether the there is an expansion of the central canal of the spinal cord
Syringomyelia is an incurable disease. All available medical methods can only slow down the inflammatory process, stabilize the symptoms and make life easier for the patient.
Syringomyelia treatment aims to protect the non-sensitive areas of the skin and provide healing for accidental cuts and burns. With long and persistent pain analgesics are administered in combination with antidepressants or antipsychotics. In some cases, the patient undergoes the surgical treatment of spinal cord - draining of pathological cavities and dissection of fibrous strands. Surgery may help eliminate pain anf provide the gradual recovery of the lost sensitivity, but complete recovery is rare.
Nonsurgical treatment includes:
- Vitamin therapy (group B, A, D, E, K)
- Drugs that improve the nutrition of nervous tissue (nootropics)
- Acupuncture: the improvement of human tissue by recovery of the reflex stimulation of specific points on the skin with thin needles