Diagnosis

To diagnose syringomyelia, your doctor will begin by asking about your medical history and doing a complete physical examination.

In some cases, syringomyelia may be discovered incidentally during a spine MRI or computerized tomography (CT) scan conducted for other reasons.

If your doctor suspects syringomyelia, you'll likely undergo tests that may include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI of your spine and spinal cord is the most reliable tool for diagnosing syringomyelia.

    An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of your spine and spinal cord. If a syrinx has developed within your spinal cord, your doctor will be able to view it on the MRI.

    In some cases, a specialist will inject a dye into a blood vessel in your groin, which travels through blood vessels to your spine and reveals tumors or other abnormalities.

    An MRI may be repeated over time to monitor the progression of syringomyelia.

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create a detailed view of your spine and spinal cord.

    A CT scan may show if you have tumors or other spine conditions.

Nov. 15, 2016
References
  1. Batzdorf U. Syringomyelia. In: Textbook of the Cervical Spine. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2016.
  2. Heiss J, et al. Management of Chiari malformations and syringomyelia. In: Schmidek and Sweet's Operative Neurosurgical Techniques. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2016.
  3. Ferri FF. Syringomyelia. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2016.
  4. Syringomyelia fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/syringomyelia/detail_syringomyelia.htm. Accessed Oct. 17, 2016.
  5. Eisen A. Disorders affecting the spinal cord. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 17, 2016.
  6. Syringomyelia. National Organization for Rare Disorders. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/syringomyelia/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2016.
  7. Support & resources: Find support. American Syringomyelia and Chiari Alliance Project. http://asap.org/index.php/resources/find-support/. Accessed Oct. 18, 2016.