Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Your spine is a structure that works best when each of its parts have enough space. If spinal openings shrink or a nerve gets impinged, problems can occur. That being said, issues can also develop if there is too much excess space in your spine. One such condition is called hydromyelia. Hydromyelia is characterized by an abnormal widening of the central canal of the spinal cord.
That extra space may seem harmless, but this can actually create a cavity in which the spinal fluid can accumulate. When cerebrospinal fluid builds up, it can put abnormal pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.
In hydromyelia, the cavity that develops is connected to the fourth ventricle in the brain. When it occurs in children, it is usually paired by another condition like Chiari Malformation or Dandy-Walker syndrome. Some of the symptoms a person might experience include:
- Arm and hand weakness
- Stiffness in the legs
- Sensory loss in the neck and arms
- Severe neck and arm pain
If you’re experiencing any of the above conditions, visit a spinal specialist. The condition can be easily diagnosed with the help of a magnetic resonance image (MRI), which can reveal abnormalities in the development of the spinal cord.
Treatment for the condition is dependant on symptoms. If the condition is asymptomatic, your doctor may only recommend that you get regular checkups to ensure the issue isn’t getting worse, but odds are you won’t even know you have the condition if you aren’t in any pain. On the flip side, if symptoms are quite bothersome, surgery is typically the preferred route.
The main goal of surgery is to relieve pressure from any cysts that are putting pressure on the spinal cord and to restore the normal flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. Any other areas that need to be depressurized will also be addressed during surgery. Because the cases are quite rare, and each patient is unique, the specific course for surgery and a recovery timetable varies. Your spinal surgeon can walk you through your operation should surgery be necessary.