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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2005 December;49(4):131-5


language: English

Tethered cord syndrome

Rinaldi F. 1, Cioffi F. A. 2, Columbano L. 2, Krasagakis G. 1, Bernini F. P. 1

1 Department of Neuroradiology Second University of Naples Medical School, Naples, Italy 2 Department of Neurosurgery Second University of Naples Medical School, Naples, Italy


Aim. Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is a stretch-induced disorder of the spinal cord. Tethering is due to an inelastic structure anchoring the caudal end of the spinal cord as a short and thick filum terminale. Spinal dysraphism is occasionally associated,but the etiological relationship between these disorders remain unclear. Other anomalies may be concurrently found as hydromielia and Arnold-Chiari malformation.
Methods. The authors analysed neuroradiological findings in 5 children and 9 patients of 20-24 years of age; there were four male and ten female. The criteria for inclusion were neurological disturbances (disorders!) localizable to the level of the conus and evidence for spinal dysraphism. The puprpose of this study was to make the precise diagnosis and make also precise planning for therapy, conservative or surgical treatment.
Results. The age of diagnosis of TCS varies from under 1 year to 14 years and is very rarely as late as adulthood. TCS can present late and insidiously with progressive gait disturbances, atrophy of various muscle groups or the entire limb, loss of reflexes,loss of sensation in the sacral dermatomes, sphincter disturbances, gait abnormality and pain in the gluteal, perianal and other pelvic areas. The diagnosis involves standard X-RAY examination, CT and CT-Mielography but MRI is now a diagnostic method of choice. Surgical untethering of the cord is recommended. The associated pain responds best to surgical treatment; ambulation and bladder function may improve as well.
Conclusions. However sphincter dysfunction often remains a permanent problem. Given the potential for rapid deterioration with incomplete neurological recovery, even prophilactic surgery seems advisable. The patient need tobe followed up, if not operated upon.

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