What causes syringomyelia?

Updated: Nov 10, 2017
  • Author: Hassan Ahmad Hassan Al-Shatoury, MD, PhD, MHPE; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Etiology of syringomyelia often is associated with craniovertebral junction abnormalities.

Bony abnormalities include the following:

  • Small posterior fossa

  • Platybasia and basilar invagination

  • Assimilation of the atlas

Soft-tissue masses of abnormal nature include the following:

  • Tumors (eg, meningioma at foramen magnum)

  • Inflammatory masses

Neural tissue abnormalities include the following:

  • Cerebellar tonsils and vermis herniation

  • Chiari malformation

Membranous abnormalities include the following:

  • Arachnoid cysts [11] , rhombic roof, or vascularized membranes

  • Posthemorrhagic or postinflammatory membranes

Other etiologies not associated with craniovertebral abnormalities may include the following:

  • Arachnoid scarring related to spinal trauma

  • Arachnoid scarring related to meningeal inflammation

  • Arachnoid scarring related to surgical trauma

  • Subarachnoid space stenosis due to spinal neoplasm or vascular malformation

  • Subarachnoid space stenosis, with possible scarring, related to disk and osteophytic disease

  • Idiopathic

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