Mechanisms underlying the formation and enlargement of noncommunicating syringomyelia

Experimental studies

M. A. Stoodley*, N. R. Jones, L. Yang, C. J. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)


The pathogenesis of noncommunicating syringomyelia is unknown, and none of the existing theories adequately explains the production of cysts that occur in association with conditions other than Chiari malformation. The authors' hypothesis is that an arterial pulsation-driven perivascular flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is responsible for syrinx formation and enlargement. They investigated normal CSF flow patterns in 20 rats and five sheep by using the tracer horseradish peroxidase; the effect of reducing arterial pulse pressure was examined in four sheep by partially ligating the brachiocephalic trunk; CSF flow was examined in 78 rats with the intraparenchymal kaolin model of noncommunicating syringomyelia; and extracanalicular cysts were examined using the excitotoxic model in 38 rats. In the normal animals there was a rapid flow of CSF from the spinal subarachnoid space into the spinal cord perivascular spaces and then into the central canal. This flow ceased when arterial pulsations were diminished. In animals with noncommunicating syringomyelia, there was rapid CSF flow into isolated and enlarged segments of central canal, even when these cysts were causing pressure damage to the surrounding spinal cord. Exitotoxic injury of the spinal cord caused the formation of extracanalicular cysts, and larger cysts were produced when this injury was combined with arachnoiditis, which impaired subarachnoid CSF flow. The results of these experiments support the hypothesis that arterial pulsation-driven perivascular fluid flow is responsible for syrinx formation and enlargement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalNeurosurgical focus [electronic resource].
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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