Syringomyelia Resolution Following Chiari Surgery: A Novel Scale for Communication and Research

Neurosurgery 88( 1) 2021: 131–139

The pathophysiological connection between Chiari malformation and syringomyelia is accepted. Debate remains, however, how can we best define changes in syringomyelia following surgery.

OBJECTIVE: To introduce a grading system focusing on syrinx reduction based on routinely and reproducible radiological information, and provide a suggestion of the application of this scale for prediction of patient’s prognoses.

METHODS: Data from 48 patients with Chiari malformation and syringomyelia were compiled. We calculated syrinx cross-sectional area by approximating an ellipse in the largest axial plane. We compared the percentage of reduction or enlargement following surgery. The percentage change was grouped into four grades: Grade 0 = Increasing size, grade I ≤ 50% reduction, grade II = 50% to 90% reduction, grade III ≥ 90% reduction.

RESULTS: A total of 89.6% of patients had syrinx improvement after surgery. A total of 5 patients were grade 0, 14 were grade I, 20 patients were grade II, and 9 patients met criteria for grade III. The mean postoperative syrinx area was 24.1 mm2 (0-169 mm2) with a mean syrinx reduction of 62.7%.

CONCLUSION: Radiological improvement of syringomyelia can be mathematically defined and standardized to assist in communication in outcome-based trials. Radiological resolution is expected most patients.