Syringomyelia is a medical term meaning presence of a single or multiple cavities in the spinal cord. Slow, but steady progression is peculiar for the disease. The process of the disease can significantly reduce the quality of a patient’s life and sometimes lead to death. Syringomyelia is difficult to treat and most of the existing therapeutic techniques are aimed at easing the symptoms of the illness.
Syringomyelia can be primary or secondary. Secondary form of the illness has a clear relationship between the appearance of the cavities in the spinal cord and an event or pathological process.
Syringomyelia can be caused by:
Primary form of the illness doesn’t have any connection between the formation of cavities in the spinal cord and other pathological processes or events.
Basic causes of the primary disease are:
A number of cases have an unclear cause. Then an idiopathic form of syringomyelia is diagnosed.
Syringomyelia is peculiar with sensitive, motor disorders, vegetative and trophic disorders.
Sensitive disorder syndrome is the most frequent clinical sign. It develops in all patients suffering with the disease. Usually, the illness starts with the sensory disorder.
Possible symptoms are:
Often, patients are observed to have burns or post-burn scars on their upper-limbs during the objective exam. The reason is due to the absence of temperature sensitivity.
Syndrome of motor disorders appears later, as syringomyelia progresses and this is characteristic for 75% of patients.
Main manifestations are:
Upper-limbs are damaged while lower extremities are rarely affected. In that case, syringomyelia is manifested by the weakness of the legs and their atrophy. The central lower paraparesis may develop (strengthening of muscle tone). A person can simultaneously have signs of central (muscle spasm) and peripheral (lethargic) paralysis.
65-70% of patients experience vegetative-trophic disorders that are associated with the damage of the spinal cord lateral horns.
Basic symptoms are:
30% of patients have their bones damaged as they become weaker. Thus, the risk of a fracture also increases. There may also be an issue of enlarged fingers.
Every third patient has some sort of heart disorder. They experience cardiac pains, signs of arrhythmia (interruptions in the work of the heart, cardiac resignation). Other organs are rarely affected. There may be a malfunction of the liver, and gastrointestinal tract.
An illness can be suspected on the basis of:
Diagnostics is based on the methods of neuroimaging. A doctor prescribes the following procedures to confirm a diagnosis:
Majority of patients receives conservative treatment only. The goal of treatment is to eliminate the disease symptoms and prevent possible complications. Vascular drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors like Proserin, anesthetics, vitamins are prescribed.
Radiation or radionuclide therapy may be effective at the initial stage of the disease. They are aimed to slow down the progression of syringomyelia. The irradiation of the spinal cord or the introduction of radioactive elements (iodine and phosphorus) into the patient’s body is also used. Courses are held at intervals of six months to several years.
Surgical methods cannot cure syringomyelia, but many patients can achieve sustained clinical improvement. Symptoms decrease in most patients. Different surgical approaches are indicated, which depends on the level of damage, the clinical course of the disease and the technical capabilities of the medical institution.
Surgeries indicated are aimed at:
The disease is extremely difficult to treat. Therefore, it is better to treat syringomyelia in a reputable European hospital, like the ones found in Germany. Here the latest techniques of syringomyelia treatment are available along with best healthcare and developed health tourism.
Life prognosis is favourable for those who suffer form syringomyelia as life expectancy isn’t necessarily reduced. Lethal outcomes are rare and mainly associated to:
Work capacity prognosis is not favourable though. Most of the patients become disabled. Life quality considerably decreases because of the chronic pain, motor and vegetative disorders.
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