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Hydromyelia refers to an abnormal widening within the central canal that is usually a very small pathway, which runs through the spinal cord’s middle. This leads to a cavity known as the syrinx, where the cerebrospinal fluid can accumulate and put pressure over the spinal cord.
However, with time, this constant pressure can damage the nerves in the spinal cord. The health condition tends to take place in adults mainly.
Let us get acquainted with the differences and other essential information concerning the health condition.
What is the difference between Hydromyelia and Syringomyelia?
Syringomyelia refers to syrinx development or a fluid-filled cavity within the spinal cord. In contrast, Hydromyelia refers to the dilatation of the central canal by the cerebrospinal fluid.
Symptoms of Hydromyelia
Mild Hydromyelia does not always indicate symptoms. However, with the progression of the disease, it can lead to
- Loss of feeling in the arms and hands
- Muscle weakness in arms, hand, and shoulders
- Pain in arms and neck
- Leg stiffness or pain
Devoid of any treatments, the stiffness and weakness usually worsen and make the movement difficult.
Causes of Hydromyelia
The exact cause of the health condition is not known, but it is thought that it’s more likely to be associated with the disruption or blockages in the CSF’s flow. This blockage or disruption is not suitable for the nervous system as appropriate CSF flow and associated pressure are required to protect the brain and spinal cord.
Specific issues, injuries, or underlying conditions during the spinal cord and brain development in the womb can generate problems with the CSF flow.
There is also a strong connection between the Hydromyelia and Arnold Chiari Malformations.
Both of them are the type of congenital disabilities that affect the brain’s structure. They often cause the cerebellum and sometimes the brainstem to move downward and crowd into the space that is reserved for the spinal cord. This leads to the blockage of CSF.
Other health conditions associated with Hydromyelia include:
- Spinal cord tumors
- Tethered Spinal Cord
Diagnosis of Hydromyelia
The diagnosis of Hydromyelia is started with a series of a few questions by a medical doctor. The queries will include the child’s medical history, symptoms, and other essentials to verify the further diagnosis method.
The doctor may also ask to perform specific movements and actions so that they can verify the signs of stiffness or weakness in their limbs.
However, to confirm the diagnosis of the health condition, the doctor will most likely suggest getting the MRI scan done. This test will allow the doctor to identify the tumors or any other underlying abnormalities in the spinal cord and brain regions.
Prognosis of Hydromyelia
The surgeries may temporarily or permanently relieve the symptoms. But it can also lead to a number of complications. And in rare cases, the Hydromyelia may resolve devoid of any medical intervention.
Treatment of Hydromyelia
Several symptomatic Hydromyelia cases may require close monitoring devoid of any treatments. It is scarce, but some cases of the health condition can even be resolved without any potential treatments.
However, in case of significant symptoms that do not improve with time or even get worse, the person may require surgery to correct the CSF flow.
The types of surgeries to treat the health condition includes:
A drainage system with a valve is utilized for draining the CSF from brain ventricles to the abdominal cavity.
- Posterior Fossa Decompression
A bone’s small portion at the back part of the lower skull and cervical spine is eradicated to relieve the pressure.
- Third Ventriculostomy
In this, a hole is created at the bottom of the brain’s third ventricle to divert the CSF flow.
However, if a patient requires surgery, the doctor will determine the best approach based on the severity of the disease, the patient’s condition, and what exactly may be causing it.
Several other factors may also be considered, and this all will be based on the health conditions severity.
Hydromyelia can lead to a wide range of neurological symptoms like sensation loss, stiffness, weakness, and pain. However, not in all cases, a person will experience the symptoms.
But in case of moderate or severe symptoms, the doctor will recommend the surgery to improve the CSF flow to reduce the symptoms.
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