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NINDS Hydromyelia Information Page

Synonym(s):   Syringohydromyelia

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What is Hydromyelia?

Hydromyelia refers to an abnormal widening of the central canal of the spinal cord that creates a cavity in which cerebrospinal fluid (commonly known as spinal fluid) can accumulate.  As spinal fluid builds up, it may put abnormal pressure on the spinal cord and damage nerve cells and their connections.  Hydromyelia is sometimes used interchangeably with syringomyelia, the name for a condition that also involves cavitation in the spinal cord.  In hydromyelia, the cavity that forms is connected to the fourth ventricle in the brain, and is almost always associated in infants and children with hydrocephalus or birth defects such as Chiari Malformation II and Dandy-Walker syndrome.  Syringomyelia, however, features a closed cavity and occurs primarily in adults, the majority of whom have Chiari Malformation type 1 or have experienced spinal cord trauma.   Symptoms, which may occur over time, include weakness of the hands and arms, stiffness in the legs; and sensory loss in the neck and arms. Some individuals have severe pain in the neck and arms. Diagnosis is made by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which reveals abnormalities in the anatomy of the spinal cord..     

Is there any treatment?

Generally, physicians recommend surgery for children with hydromyelia if they have moderate or severe neurological deficits. Surgical treatment re-establishes the normal flow of spinal fluid.

What is the prognosis?

Surgery may permanently or temporarily relieve symptoms, but it can also cause a number of severe complications. In rare cases, hydromyelia may resolve on its own without any medical intervention.   

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts research related to hydromyelia in its clinics and laboratories at The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and supports additional research through grants to major research institutions across the country.  Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure abnormalities of the spinal cord such as hydromyelia.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Hydromyelia Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
March of Dimes
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY   10605
askus@marchofdimes.com
http://www.marchofdimes.com
Tel: 914-997-4488 888-MODIMES (663-4637)
Fax: 914-428-8203

 
Related NINDS Publications and Information


Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated April 16, 2014