Cerebrospinal fluid flow in an animal model of noncommunicating syringomyelia

Marcus A. Stoodley*, Bernice Gutschmidt, Nigel R. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The source of fluid and the mechanism of cyst enlargement in syringomyelia are unknown. It has been demonstrated that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) normally flows from the subarachnoid space through perivascular spaces and into the spinal cord central canal. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this flow continues during cyst formation in an animal model of syringomyelia and to determine the role of subarachnoid CSF flow in this model. METHODS: The intraparenchymal kaolin model of noncommunicating syringomyelia was established in 78 Sprague-Dawley rats. Horseradish peroxidase was used as a tracer to study CSF flow at 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, and 6 weeks after kaolin injection. CSF flow was studied at 0, 10, and 30 minutes after horseradish peroxidase injection into the cisterna magna or thoracic subarachnoid space. RESULTS: The central canal became occluded at the level of the kaolin injection and at one or more rostral levels. Segments of the central canal isolated between occlusions gradually dilated, and axonal retraction balls were detected in the surrounding white matter. There was a partial blockage of subarachnoid CSF flow at the site of the kaolin injection, both in a rostral-caudal direction and in a caudal-rostral direction. Horseradish peroxidase was detected at all time points, in a distinctive pattern, in perivascular spaces and the central canal. This pattern was seen even where segments of the central canal were isolated and dilated. CONCLUSION: In this animal model, noncommunicating syringes continue to enlarge even when there is evidence that they are under high pressure. There may be an increase in pulse pressure rostral to the block of subarachnoid CSF flow, causing an increase in perivascular flow and contributing to syrinx formation. The source of fluid in noncommunicating syringomyelia may be arterial pulsation-dependent CSF flow from perivascular spaces into the central canal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1076
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Central canal
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Perivascular space
  • Spinal cord
  • Subarachnoid space
  • Syringomyelia


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