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Disease characterized by the entrance of cerebrospinal fluid into the spinal cord, where it forms a cavity (syrinx). The syrinx can expand and elongate over time, destroying the centre of the spinal cord and causing symptoms that vary with the syrinx's size and location. It is often related to the presence of a congenital malformation of the cerebellum, called a Chiari malformation, but it may also arise as a complication of spinal trauma, meningitis, tumour, or other conditions. Symptoms include loss of sensitivity, especially to temperature, muscle weakness and spasticity, and headaches and chronic pain. Syringomyelia may be diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging. Surgery to correct the condition that caused the syrinx to form may stabilize or improve a patient's health.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on syringomyelia, visit Britannica.com.