Altered subarachnoid space compliance and fluid flow in an animal model of posttraumatic syringomyelia

Andrew R. Brodbelt*, Marcus A. Stoodley, Amy M. Watling, Jian Tu, Seán Burke, Nigel R. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


STUDY DESIGN: A histologic study of cerebrospinal fluid tracers in Sprague-Dawley rats undergoing lumboperitoneal shunt insertion in the excitotoxic animal model of posttraumatic syringomyelia (PTS). OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion from the subarachnoid space on perivascular flow (PVS) and syrinx formation in posttraumatic syringomyelia. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: In an animal model of PTS, fluid enters syringes from the subarachnoid space via perivascular spaces. Preferential PVS flow occurs at the level of the syrinx. It has been suggested that arachnoiditis predisposes to posttraumatic syringomyelia formation by obstructing subarachnoid cerebrospinal fluid flow and enhancing perivascular flow. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty-two male Sprague-Dawley rats were investigated using the CSF tracer horseradish peroxidase (HRP), the excitotoxic model of PTS, and lumboperitoneal shunt insertion. Five experimental groups consisted of normal controls, syrinx only and shunt only controls, and shunt insertion before or after syrinx formation. In all groups except normal controls, CSF flow studies were performed 6 weeks after the final intervention. Grading scales were used to quantify HRP staining. RESULTS: All excitotoxic model animals formed syringes. Perivascular flow was greatest at the level of the syrinx. Cerebral cortex perivascular flow was significantly reduced after shunt insertion in animals with a syrinx (P < 0.05). Shunt insertion did not alter syrinx length or size. There were no significant differences between shunt and syrinx first groups. CONCLUSIONS: Increasing caudal subarachnoid space compliance with a shunt does not affect local CSF flow into the spinal cord and syrinx. These results suggest that localized alterations in compliance, as opposed to obstruction from traumatic arachnoiditis, may act as an important factor in syrinx pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E413-E419
Number of pages7
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


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