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Syringomyelia and Chiari Surgery

Renowned Expertise in Syringomyelia and Chiari Malformation Surgery

Specialist treatment of rare neurological conditions

The surgeons at Macquarie Neurosurgery have renowned skill and expertise in syringomyelia and Chiari malformation surgery.

The medical team began their focus on these conditions over 20 years ago, and they have made significant advancements in the field ever since.

Their ongoing research has led to a deeper understanding of the causes and treatments of these rare neurological diseases, helping to ensure more accurate diagnoses and better patient outcomes.

What is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is considered to be one of the most intriguing conditions in neurosurgery. In patients with syringomyelia, a fluid cyst (or cysts) forms inside the spinal cord.

Medical specialists still aren’t certain how this fluid gets into the spinal cord in the first place - which is why the disorder is regarded as somewhat of a physical conundrum.

Identifying the primary cause of syringomyelia

Two of the most common underlying causes of syringomyelia are spinal cord injury and Chiari malformation.

Syringomyelia can also be caused by tumours, infections, previous haemorrhage, and past investigations (for example, certain dyes previously injected into the spinal fluid that have resulted in scarring and inflammation around the spinal cord).

However, it’s not always possible to determine the reason why a patient has developed syringomyelia.

The surgeons at Macquarie Neurosurgery utilise very sophisticated imaging technology that is considered to be the best in the country to try and identify the origin of the condition.

This helps to ensure that patients receive the ideal treatment for their unique case, as different underlying causes require different approaches to surgery and treatment.

Some patients have membranes around their spinal cord which, if formed in such a way that normal fluid circulation is impeded, can lead to syringomyelia. These membranes aren’t visible on normal MRIs, but the specific technology at Macquarie University Hospital allows the surgical team to see these more easily - and, in many cases, identify the underlying cause.

This cutting-edge equipment has has enabled surgeons to identify a patient’s underlying cause when it wasn’t previously apparent.

Chiari malformation Surgery

Chiari malformation (also known as Arnold-Chiari malformation) is a congenital condition in which the cerebellum (the back part of the brain) is squeezed out into the spine or upper part of the neck (as opposed to within the skull). This blocks the normal flow of fluid between the head and spine.

Surgical treatment is the only treatment option for syringomyelia caused by Chiari malformation. Macquarie Neurosurgery’s surgeons have many years of experience performing these types of complex surgical procedures.

State-of-the-art treatment

If you’re undergoing surgery for syringomyelia at Macquarie Neurosurgery, your surgeon will determine your treatment options with a multi-disciplinary team. This specialist group is dedicated to ensuring you receive an excellent standard of care and support - before, during and after your surgery.

Important considerations for patients undergoing surgery for syringomyelia include:

  • Scarring - certain types of patch grafts risk scarring around the cerebellum which can lead to long-term problems. The surgeons at Macquarie Neurosurgery use patch grafts aimed to minimise scarring .

  • Treatment of previous scarring - the medical specialists are able to treat patients who have developed a problem with scarring from previous surgery and have had successes replacing patch grafts.

  • Fluid control - the surgical team are highly trained to minimise fluid leakage problems after surgery.

  • Shunt surgery - this is a procedure that diverts fluid from inside the spinal cord, usually to the normal fluid space around the cord. The team have a high level of skill in this technically-challenging surgery.

 

Ongoing care and support 

After your surgical procedure, your multi-disciplinary group of medical professionals will continue to monitor your recovery carefully. You’ll be provided with ongoing care, supported by a dedicated team of specialists - including physiotherapy and rehabilitation services if required. 

Constant learning

Surgeons at Macquarie Neurosurgery focus not only on excellent clinical care but also on educating future neurosurgeons. They participate in neurosurgical research and are committed to transferring the leading procedures and innovations to all patients. Macquarie Neurosurgery’s alliance with Macquarie University & Macquarie University Hospital allows for the advancement of all areas of neurosurgery.