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  • Author or Editor: Amy K. Bruzek x
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Amy K. Bruzek, Jordan Starr, Hugh J. L. Garton, Karin M. Muraszko, Cormac O. Maher and Jennifer M. Strahle

OBJECTIVE

The nature of the relationship between spinal cord syrinx and tethered cord is not well known. It is unclear if surgical cord untethering results in resolution or improvement of an associated syrinx. The objective of this study was to report the response of spinal cord syrinx to surgical cord untethering.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients with a syrinx and tethered cord who presented to a single institution over an 11-year interval. Patients with open neural tube defects were excluded. Thirty-one patients were identified, 25 of whom had both clinical and imaging follow-up after surgery. Patients were grouped according to etiology of the tethered cord. Clinical outcomes and syrinx characteristics were recorded.

RESULTS

Of the 25 patients with tethered cord, 68% (n = 17) were male. The average age at presentation was 2.5 years (0–10.1 years) and age at surgery was 3.7 years (range 1 day to 17 years). Etiologies of tethered cord were lipomyelomeningocele (n = 8), thickened/fatty filum (n = 7), intradural lipoma (n = 5), myelocystocele (n = 2), meningocele (n = 2), and diastematomyelia (n = 1). Twenty-three of the patients underwent primary untethering, whereas 2 patients had received untethering previously at another institution. The average syrinx length and width prior to surgery were 4.81 vertebral levels (SD 4.35) and 5.19 mm (SD 2.55 mm), respectively. Conus level ranged from L1 to S3. Patients were followed for an average of 8.4 years (1.35–15.85 years). Overall there was no significant change in syrinx length or width postoperatively; the average syrinx length increased by 0.86 vertebral levels (SD 4.36) and width decreased by 0.72 mm (SD 2.94 mm). Seven of 25 patients had improvement in at least one presenting symptom, including scoliosis, weakness, bowel/bladder dysfunction, and pain. Eight patients had stable presenting symptoms. Six patients were asymptomatic and 5 patients had new or worsening symptoms, which included scoliosis, pain, or sensory changes.

CONCLUSIONS

Although some syrinxes improved after surgery for tethered cord, radiological improvement was not consistent and did not appear to be associated with change in clinical symptoms. The decision to surgically untether a cord should be focused on the clinical symptoms and not the presence of a syrinx alone. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding.

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Jayapalli Rajiv Bapuraj, Amy K. Bruzek, Jamaal K. Tarpeh, Lindsey Pelissier, Hugh J. L. Garton, Richard C. E. Anderson, Bin Nan, Tianwen Ma and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

Current understanding of how the pediatric craniocervical junction develops remains incomplete. Measurements of anatomical relationships at the craniocervical junction can influence clinical and surgical decision-making. The purpose of this analysis was to quantitatively define clinically relevant craniocervical junction measurements in a population of children with CT scans that show normal anatomy.

METHODS

A total of 1458 eligible patients were identified from children between 1 and 18 years of age who underwent cervical spine CT scanning at a single institution. Patients were separated by both sex and age in years into 34 groups. Following this, patients within each group were randomly selected for inclusion until a target of 15 patients in each group had been reached. Each patient underwent measurement of the occipital condyle–C1 interval (CCI), pB–C2, atlantodental interval (ADI), basion-dens interval (BDI), basion-opisthion diameter (BOD), basion-axial interval (BAI), dens angulation, and canal diameter at C1. Mean values were calculated in each group. Each measurement was performed by two teams and compared for intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).

RESULTS

The data showed that CCI, ADI, BDI, and dens angulation decrease in magnitude throughout childhood, while pB–C2, PADI, BAI, and BOD increase throughout childhood, with an ICC of fair to good (range 0.413–0.912). Notably, CCI decreases continuously on coronal CT scans, whereas on parasagittal CT scans, CCI does not decrease until after age 9, when it shows a continuous decline similar to measurements on coronal CT scans.

CONCLUSIONS

These morphometric analyses establish parameters for normal pediatric craniocervical spine growth for each year of life up to 18 years. The data should be considered when evaluating children for potential surgical intervention.