Which physical findings are characteristic of 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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A complete physical examination may reveal diminished arm reflexes, which are sometimes present early in the clinical course of syringomyelia.

Lower limb spasticity, which may be asymmetrical, appears with other long-tract signs such as paraparesis, hyperreflexia, and extensor plantar responses.

Rectal examination includes an evaluation of volitional sphincter control and sensory assessment of sacral dermatomes.

Dissociated sensory impairment may be noted.

The syrinx may extend into the brain stem, affecting cranial nerves or cerebellar function.

Brainstem signs are common in syringomyelia associated with Chiari malformations.

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