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1.  Terminal myelocystocele--a case report. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  1996;11(2):197-202.
Terminal myelocystocele is a rare form of occult spinal dysraphism in which the hydromyelic caudal spinal cord and the subarachnoid space are hemiated through a posterior spina bifida. A 1.5 month old boy presented with a large lumbosacral mass and urinary incontinence. The magnetic resonance imaging, operative findings and pathological findings revealed a low lying conus with a dilated central canal dorsally attached to the subcutaneous tissue. Ventral subarachnoid space was enlarged and herniated through the laminar defect of the sacrum. The lesion was typical of a terminal myelocystocele. The clinical features are different from those of myelomeningocele in many aspects. Though the incidence is low, terminal myelocystocele should be included in the differential diagnosis of congenital lesions presenting as a lumbosacral mass.
PMCID: PMC3053929  PMID: 8835771
2.  Imaging of terminal myelocystoceles. 
This article presents a retrospective analysis of the presentation, imaging studies, and associated findings in 20 children with surgically and histologically proven terminal myelocystoceles. All 20 children presented at birth with a black mass; 13 had cloacal extrophy. The patient population was comprised of 15 girls and 5 with ambiguous genitalia: Of the imaging studies, 8 had plain radiographs, 6 myelography-computed tomography, 11 ultrasound, and 14 magnetic resonance. The associated findings included Chiari I (eight patients), Chiari II (one patient), hydromyelia (three patients), hydrocephalus (three patients), and vertebral segmentation anomalies (six patients). Magnetic resonance imaging was the best imaging modality to diagnose and evaluate children with a myelocystocele. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated the classic findings: a terminal cyst of the central canal of the spinal cord that is tethered and herniated with arachnoid and cerebrospinal fluid through an area of spinal dysphria onto the back as a mass.
PMCID: PMC2608070  PMID: 8803433
3.  Cervical myelocystocele: Case report and review of literature 
Dysraphisms involving cervical region are very rare and there are very few series describing their follow-up in literature. Here, we report a 6-year-old boy who underwent postnatal “cosmetic” repair of posterior cervical cystic lesion and presented to us with a large recurrence with syringohydromyelia and tethering. Tethered cord should be suspected in the presence of meningocele and intact neurology. Treatment protocols of such complicated cervical spinal dysraphisms should include intradural exploration and detethering, with an aim to prevent neurological deterioration in future.
PMCID: PMC3173918  PMID: 21977091
Cervical myelomeningocele; recurrence; tethered cord
4.  An unusual case of 4 level spinal dysraphism: Multiple composite type 1 and type 2 split cord malformation, dorsal myelocystocele and hydrocephalous 
The authors here have reported a rare case of a child with a complex spina bifida with two different levels of split cord malformation (SCM) type 1 and single level type 2, a non terminal myelocystocele, coccygeal dermal sinus, bifid fatty filum and hydrocephalus, which substantiates the neuroenteric canal theory and have further tried to highlight the importance of complete Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screening of the whole spine and brain with SCM to rule out other associated conditions. The patient was admitted with a leaking myelocystocele with bilateral lower limb weakness. MRI of whole spine with screening of brain was done. Patient underwent 5 operations in the same sitting- (According to classification given by Mahapatra et al.) removal of SCM type 1a at D7-8; removal of SCM type1c at L2-3; removal of SCM type 2 at D10; repair of non terminal myelocystocele at D6-D10; low pressure ventriculoperitoneal shunt on right side with excision of dermal coccygeal sinus; and, excision of bifid fatty filum. The clinicoradiological findings in our patient further substantiate the multiple accessory neuroenteric canal theory in the development of composite type of SCM. The physical and neurological signs of SCM and nonterminal myelocystocele should prompt the neurosurgeon to consider performing the screening MRI of whole spine with brain to rule out other composite types of SCM and hydrocephalus.
PMCID: PMC3173919  PMID: 21977092
4 level spinal dysraphism; non terminal myelocystocele; one stage surgery; spinal cord malformation
5.  A rare case of thoracic myelocystocele associated with type 1 split cord malformation with low lying tethered cord, dorsal syrinx and sacral agenesis: Pentad finding 
Myelocystocele is a rare form of spinal dysraphism. Thoracic myelocystocele is still rarer. The occurrence of thoracic myelocystocele associated with type-1 split cord malformation, low lying tethered cord, dorsal syrinx and spina bifida is extremely rare. Clinical presentation of such a rare case and an early surgical management is discussed briefly.
PMCID: PMC4244798  PMID: 25552859
Low lying tethered cord; spinal dysraphism; split cord malformation; syringomyelia; thoracic myelocystocele
6.  Spondylocostal dysostosis (Jarcho-Levine syndrome) associated with occult spinal dysraphism: Report of two cases 
Spondylocostal dysostosis, also known as Jarcho-Levine syndrome, is a rare disorder characterized by multiple vertebral and rib anomalies at birth. The association of occult spinal dysraphic lesions with this entity is rare. Two patients with spondylocostal dysostosis and occult spinal dysraphic lesions, one with type I split cord malformation and another with spinal dermal sinus are being reported. A 7-month-old female child who was operated at birth for imperforate anus was noted to have a dimple at the low back with altered skin color around the dimple. Examination revealed the right lower extremity was slightly thinner than the left. Plain radiographs showed features of spondylocostal dysostosis with scoliosis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a type I split cord malformation at the lumbosacral junction with low-lying conus and terminal syringomyelia. Patient underwent excision of the bony spur uneventfully. A 14-month-old male child was noted to have a small swelling in the low back along with deformity of the right lower chest since birth. Plain radiographs revealed features of spondylocostal dysostosis. MRI showed a spinal dermal sinus at the lumbosacral junction with a low-lying conus. The patient underwent excision of the spinal dermal sinus and untethering of the cord uneventfully. Although rare, spondylocostal dysostosis can be associated with occult spinal dysraphic lesions like type I split cord malformations or spinal dermal sinus. Physicians should be aware about the possibility of children with spondylocostal dysostosis harboring occult spinal dysraphic lesions so that these patients receive appropriate treatment.
PMCID: PMC4489055  PMID: 26167215
Jarcho-Levine syndrome; spinal dermal sinus; spondylocostal dysostosis; spondylothoracic dysostosis; tethered cord; type I split cord malformation
7.  Gluteal pseudophallus in a male child: A rare cutaneous marker of occult spinal dysraphism 
Congenital midline paraspinal cutaneous markers have been practically linked to the location and nature of neural-tissue lesions. One of the most interesting congenital midline paraspinal cutaneous markers has been the human tail in the lumbosacral region, with underlying spinal dysraphism. Human tails have many shapes and sizes and are usually localized to the lumbosacral region. After a complete neurological examination, the MRI is the most sensitive diagnostic modality to reveal the underlying occult spinal dysraphic state. Surgical excision is aimed at untethering of the spinal cord in symptomatic children and for aesthetic reasons in asymptomatic patients. Here we report an asymptomatic male child with normal external genitilia, whose tail is attached to the gluteal region like an adult phallus and investigations revealed an underlying spinal dysraphic state.
PMCID: PMC3162781  PMID: 21887197
Gluteal pseudophallus; male child; occult spinal dysraphism
8.  Isolated thoracic (D5) intramedullary epidermoid cyst without spinal dysraphism: A rare case report 
Spinal epidermoid cyst, congenital or acquired, is mainly congenital associated with spinal dysraphism, rarely in isolation. Intramedullary epidermoid cysts (IECs) are rare with less than 60 cases reported so far; isolated variety (i.e., without spinal dysraphism) is still rarer. Complete microsurgical excision is the dictum of surgical treatment. A 14-year-old boy presented with 4-month history of upper backache accompanied with progressive descending paresthesia with paraparesis with early bladder and bowel involvement. His condition deteriorated rapidly making him bedridden. Neurological examination revealed upper thoracic myeloradiculopathy probably of neoplastic origin with sensory localization to D5 spinal level. Digital X-ray revealed no feature suggestive of spinal dysraphism. Contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics clinched the presumptive diagnosis. Near-total microsurgical excision was done leaving behind a small part of the calcified capsule densely adhered to cord. Histopathological features were confirmative of an epidermoid cyst. Postoperatively, he improved significantly with a gain of motor power sufficient to walk without support within a span of 6 months. Spinal IECs, without any specific clinical presentation, are often diagnosed based upon intraoperative and histopathological findings, however early diagnosis is possible on complete MRI valuation. Complete microsurgical excision, resulting in cessation of clinical progression and remission of symptoms, has to be limited to sub-total or near-total excision if cyst is adherent to cord or its confines.
PMCID: PMC4489056  PMID: 26167216
Diffusion weighted imaging; epidermoid; intramedullary; spinal dysraphism; thoracic vertebra
9.  The lumbosacral angle does not reflect progressive tethered cord syndrome in children with spinal dysraphism 
Child's Nervous System  2010;26(12):1757-1764.
Our goal was to validate the hypothesis that the lumbosacral angle (LSA) increases in children with spinal dysraphism who present with progressive symptoms and signs of tethered cord syndrome (TCS), and if so, to determine for which different types and/or levels the LSA would be a valid indicator of progressive TCS. Moreover, we studied the influence of surgical untethering and eventual retethering on the LSA.
We retrospectively analyzed the data of 33 children with spinal dysraphism and 33 controls with medulloblastoma. We measured the LSA at different moments during follow-up and correlated this with progression in symptomatology.
LSA measurements had an acceptable intra- and interobserver variability, however, some children with severe deformity of the caudal part of the spinal column, and for obvious reasons those with caudal regression syndrome were excluded. LSA measurements in children with spinal dysraphism were significantly different from the control group (mean LSA change, 21.0° and 3.1° respectively). However, both groups were not age-matched, and when dividing both groups into comparable age categories, we no longer observed a significant difference. Moreover, we did not observe a significant difference between 26 children with progressive TCS as opposed to seven children with stable TCS (mean LSA change, 20.6° and 22.4° respectively).
We did not observe significant differences in LSA measurements for children with clinically progressive TCS as opposed to clinically stable TCS. Therefore, the LSA does not help the clinician to determine if there is significant spinal cord tethering, nor if surgical untethering is needed.
PMCID: PMC2981732  PMID: 20857121
Lumbosacral angle; Spinal dysraphism; Tethered cord syndrome; Untethering
10.  A rare case of giant terminal lipomyelocystocele with partial sacral agenesis 
Terminal myelocystoceles (TMCs) are a rare form of occult spinal dysraphism. They constitute approximately 5% of skin covered lumbosacral masses. The TMC is composed of a low-lying conus medullaris with cystic dilatation of caudal central canal, a surrounding meningocele and a lipoma that extends from the conus to a subcutaneous fat collection. A 6-month-old female child presented with a large lumbosacral mass (14 cm × 12 cm × 10 cm) and weakness at the ankle joints since birth. Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scan revealed a low-lying terminal lipomyelocystocele with holocord syrinx and partial sacral agenesis. The child was operated on successfully. This is an interesting and rare case of giant terminal lipomyelocystocoele with syrinx and a partial sacral agenesis. Terminal lipomyelocystocele should be included in the differential diagnosis of congenital lesions presenting as a lumbosacral mass and operated early.
PMCID: PMC3680899  PMID: 23772247
Giant terminal lipomyelocystocoele; sacral agenesis; syrinx
11.  Extraspinal Type I Dural Arteriovenous Fistula with a Lumbosacral Lipomyelomeningocele: A Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Seven cases of adult spinal vascular malformations presenting in conjunction with spinal dysraphism have been reported in the literature. Two of these involved male patients with a combined dural arteriovenous fistula (DAVF) and lipomyelomeningocele. The authors present the third case of a patient with an extraspinal DAVF and associated lipomyelomeningocele in a lumbosacral location. A 58-year-old woman with rapid decline in bilateral motor function 10 years after a prior L4-5 laminectomy and cord detethering for diagnosed tethered cord underwent magnetic resonance imaging showing evidence of persistent cord tethering and a lipomyelomeningocele. Diagnostic spinal angiogram showed a DAVF with arterial feeders from bilateral sacral and the right internal iliac arteries. The patient underwent Onyx embolization of both feeding right and left lateral sacral arteries. At 6-month follow-up, MRI revealed decreased flow voids and new collateralized supply to the DAVF. The patient underwent successful lipomyelomeningocele exploration, resection, AV fistula ligation, and cord detethering. This report discusses management of this patient as well as the importance of endovascular embolization followed by microsurgery for the treatment of cases with combined vascular and dysraphic anomalies.
PMCID: PMC4407406  PMID: 25949837
12.  Multiple neural tube defects in the same patient with no neurological deficit 
Congenital deformities involving the coverings of the nervous system are called neural tube defects (NTDs). NTD can be classified as neurulation defects, which occur by stage 12, and postneurulation defects. Cervical meningocele and myelomeningocele are rare spinal dysraphic lesions. Unlike lumbosacral dysraphic lesions, there is often no neurologic deficits and thus the subtle features of cervical cord tethering may be overlooked on imaging. The presence of meningomyelocele and/or encephaloceles at multiple (two or more) sites along the vertebral axis is a very rare event occurring in <1% of cases. Less than 10 cases have been described in the published literature. We are reporting a case of multiple NTD in same patient with no neurological deficit.
PMCID: PMC2964786  PMID: 21042511
Dermal sinus; meningomyelocele; neral tube defect; tethered cord
13.  Limited access surgery for 360 degrees in-situ fusion in a dysraphic patient with high-grade spondylolisthesis 
European Spine Journal  2011;21(3):390-395.
Progressive high-grade spondylolisthesis can lead to spinal imbalance. High-grade spondylolisthesis is often reduced and fused in unbalanced pelvises, whereas in-situ fusion is used more often in balanced patients. The surgical goal is to recreate or maintain sagittal balance but if anatomical reduction is necessary, the risk of nerval damage with nerve root disruption in worst cases is increased. Spinal dysraphism like spina bifida or tethered cord syndrome make it very difficult to achieve reduction and posterior fusion due to altered anatomy putting the focus on anterior column support. Intensive neural structure manipulation should be avoided to reduce neurological complications and re-tethering in these cases. A 26-year-old patient with a history of diastematomyelia, occult spina bifida and tethered cord syndrome presented with new onset of severe low back pain, and bilateral L5/S1 sciatica after a fall. The X-ray demonstrated a grade III spondylolisthesis with spina bifida and the MRI scan revealed bilateral severely narrowed exit foramina L5 due to the listhesis. Because she was well balanced sagittally, the decision for in-situ fusion was made to minimise the risk of neurological disturbance through reduction. Anterior fusion was favoured to minimise manipulation of the dysraphic neural structures. Fusion was achieved via isolated access to the L4/L5 disc space. A L5 transvertebral hollow modular anchorage (HMA) screw was passed into the sacrum from the L4/L5 disc space and interbody fusion of L4/L5 was performed with a cage. The construct was augmented with pedicle screw fixation L4–S1 via a less invasive bilateral muscle split for better anterior biomechanical support. The postoperative course was uneventful and fusion was CT confirmed at the 6-month follow-up. At the last follow-up, she worked full time, was completely pain free and not limited in her free-time activities. The simultaneous presence of high-grade spondylolisthesis and spinal dysraphism make it very difficult to find a decisive treatment plan because both posterior and anterior treatment strategies have advantages and disadvantages in these challenging cases. The described technique combines several surgical options to achieve 360° fusion with limited access, reducing the risk of neurological sequelae.
PMCID: PMC3296860  PMID: 22008862
High-grade spondylolisthesis; In-situ fusion; HMA screw; Tethered cord; Spina bifida
14.  Long Term Outcome of Non-Dysraphic Intramedullary Spinal Cord Lipomas in Adults: Case Series and Review 
Asian Spine Journal  2014;8(4):476-483.
Study Design
It is a case series involving clinical presentation, radiological findings, surgical technique and long term outcome of Non-dysraphic intramedullary spinal cord lipomas in adults along with the review of the literature.
The purpose of the study is to find out from our series as well as from literature what determines the long term outcome and how it can be improved in patients diagnosed to have intramedullary spinal cord lipomas.
Overview of Literature
Non-dysraphic spinal intramedullary lipomas in adults are extremely rare. Majority of cases occur in children and in cervico-dorsal regions. Only eight cases of dorso-lumbar spinal lipomas without spinal dysraphism in adults have been reported in the English literature till 2013.
Here we report our experience with three such cases in the dorsolumbar region and discuss the surgical technique and the long term outcome of such cases.
Review of literature and from our own cases we conclude that long term outcome after surgery is determined by the preoperative neurological status.
Earlier surgical intervention with preserved neurological status results in better outcome. Radical subtotal excision without producing iatrogenic postoperative neurological deficit should be the goal of the surgery and it stabilizes the disease process in the long run. When early clinico-radiological signs of recurrence develop, such patient's to be reoperated immediately to prevent them from developing a fixed neurological deficit.
PMCID: PMC4149991  PMID: 25187865
Spinal lipomas; Intramedullary tumors; Spinal cord tumor; Lipomas
15.  Extensive Neuronal Differentiation of Human Neural Stem Cell Grafts in Adult Rat Spinal Cord 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(2):e39.
Effective treatments for degenerative and traumatic diseases of the nervous system are not currently available. The support or replacement of injured neurons with neural grafts, already an established approach in experimental therapeutics, has been recently invigorated with the addition of neural and embryonic stem-derived precursors as inexhaustible, self-propagating alternatives to fetal tissues. The adult spinal cord, i.e., the site of common devastating injuries and motor neuron disease, has been an especially challenging target for stem cell therapies. In most cases, neural stem cell (NSC) transplants have shown either poor differentiation or a preferential choice of glial lineages.
Methods and Findings
In the present investigation, we grafted NSCs from human fetal spinal cord grown in monolayer into the lumbar cord of normal or injured adult nude rats and observed large-scale differentiation of these cells into neurons that formed axons and synapses and established extensive contacts with host motor neurons. Spinal cord microenvironment appeared to influence fate choice, with centrally located cells taking on a predominant neuronal path, and cells located under the pia membrane persisting as NSCs or presenting with astrocytic phenotypes. Slightly fewer than one-tenth of grafted neurons differentiated into oligodendrocytes. The presence of lesions increased the frequency of astrocytic phenotypes in the white matter.
NSC grafts can show substantial neuronal differentiation in the normal and injured adult spinal cord with good potential of integration into host neural circuits. In view of recent similar findings from other laboratories, the extent of neuronal differentiation observed here disputes the notion of a spinal cord that is constitutively unfavorable to neuronal repair. Restoration of spinal cord circuitry in traumatic and degenerative diseases may be more realistic than previously thought, although major challenges remain, especially with respect to the establishment of neuromuscular connections.
When neural stem cells from human fetal spinal cord were grafted into the lumbar cord of normal or injured adult nude rats, substantial neuronal differentiation was found.
Editors' Summary
Every year, spinal cord injuries, many caused by road traffic accidents, paralyze about 11,000 people in the US. This paralysis occurs because the spinal cord is the main communication highway between the body and the brain. Information from the skin and other sensory organs is transmitted to the brain along the spinal cord by bundles of neurons, nervous system cells that transmit and receive messages. The brain then sends information back down the spinal cord to control movement, breathing, and other bodily functions. The bones of the spine normally protect the spinal cord but, if these are broken or dislocated, the spinal cord can be cut or compressed, which interrupts the information flow. Damage near the top of the spinal cord can paralyze the arms and legs (tetraplegia); damage lower down paralyzes the legs only (paraplegia). Spinal cord injuries also cause many other medical problems, including the loss of bowel and bladder control. Although the deleterious effects of spinal cord injuries can be minimized by quickly immobilizing the patient and using drugs to reduce inflammation, the damaged nerve fibers never regrow. Consequently, spinal cord injury is permanent.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists are currently searching for ways to reverse spinal cord damage. One potential approach is to replace the damaged neurons using neural stem cells (NSCs). These cells, which can be isolated from embryos and from some areas of the adult nervous system, are able to develop into all the specialized cells types of the nervous system. However, because most attempts to repair spinal cord damage with NSC transplants have been unsuccessful, many scientists believe that the environment of the spinal cord is unsuitable for nerve regeneration. In this study, the researchers have investigated what happens to NSCs derived from the spinal cord of a human fetus after transplantation into the spinal cord of adult rats.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers injected human NSCs that they had grown in dishes into the spinal cord of intact nude rats (animals that lack a functioning immune system and so do not destroy human cells) and into nude rats whose spinal cord had been damaged at the transplantation site. The survival and fate of the transplanted cells was assessed by staining thin slices of spinal cord with an antibody that binds to a human-specific protein and with antibodies that recognize proteins specific to NSCs, neurons, or other nervous system cells. The researchers report that the human cells survived well in the adult spinal cord of the injured and normal rats and migrated into the gray matter of the spinal cord (which contains neuronal cell bodies) and into the white matter (which contains the long extensions of nerve cells that carry nerve impulses). 75% and 60% of the human cells in the gray and white matter, respectively, contained a neuron-specific protein six months after transplantation but only 10% of those in the membrane surrounding the spinal cord became neurons; the rest developed into astrocytes (another nervous system cell type) or remained as stem cells. Finally, many of the human-derived neurons made the neurotransmitter GABA (one of the chemicals that transfers messages between neurons) and made contacts with host spinal cord neurons.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that human NSC grafts can, after all, develop into neurons (predominantly GABA-producing neurons) in normal and injured adult spinal cord and integrate into the existing spinal cord if the conditions are right. Although these animal experiments suggest that NSC transplants might help people with spinal injuries, they have some important limitations. For example, the spinal cord lesions used here are mild and unlike those seen in human patients. This and the use of nude rats might have reduced the scarring in the damaged spinal cord that is often a major barrier to nerve regeneration. Furthermore, the researchers did not test whether NSC transplants provide functional improvements after spinal cord injury. However, since other researchers have also recently reported that NSCs can grow and develop into neurons in injured adult spinal cord, these new results further strengthen hopes it might eventually be possible to use human NSCs to repair damaged spinal cords.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information on spinal cord injury and current spinal cord research
Spinal Research (a UK charity) offers information on spinal cord injury and repair
The US National Spinal Cord Injury Association Web site contains factsheets on spinal cord injuries
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on spinal cord trauma and interactive tutorials on spinal cord injury
The International Society for Stem Cell Research offers information on all sorts of stem cells including NSCs
The US National Human Neural Stem Cell Resource provides information on human NSCs, including the current US government's stance on stem cell research
PMCID: PMC1796906  PMID: 17298165
16.  Two Faces of Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycan in Spinal Cord Repair: A Role in Microglia/Macrophage Activation 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(8):e171.
Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG) is a major component of the glial scar. It is considered to be a major obstacle for central nervous system (CNS) recovery after injury, especially in light of its well-known activity in limiting axonal growth. Therefore, its degradation has become a key therapeutic goal in the field of CNS regeneration. Yet, the abundant de novo synthesis of CSPG in response to CNS injury is puzzling. This apparent dichotomy led us to hypothesize that CSPG plays a beneficial role in the repair process, which might have been previously overlooked because of nonoptimal regulation of its levels. This hypothesis is tested in the present study.
Methods and Findings
We inflicted spinal cord injury in adult mice and examined the effects of CSPG on the recovery process. We used xyloside to inhibit CSPG formation at different time points after the injury and analyzed the phenotype acquired by the microglia/macrophages in the lesion site. To distinguish between the resident microglia and infiltrating monocytes, we used chimeric mice whose bone marrow-derived myeloid cells expressed GFP. We found that CSPG plays a key role during the acute recovery stage after spinal cord injury in mice. Inhibition of CSPG synthesis immediately after injury impaired functional motor recovery and increased tissue loss. Using the chimeric mice we found that the immediate inhibition of CSPG production caused a dramatic effect on the spatial organization of the infiltrating myeloid cells around the lesion site, decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) production by microglia/macrophages, and increased tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels. In contrast, delayed inhibition, allowing CSPG synthesis during the first 2 d following injury, with subsequent inhibition, improved recovery. Using in vitro studies, we showed that CSPG directly activated microglia/macrophages via the CD44 receptor and modulated neurotrophic factor secretion by these cells.
Our results show that CSPG plays a pivotal role in the repair of injured spinal cord and in the recovery of motor function during the acute phase after the injury; CSPG spatially and temporally controls activity of infiltrating blood-borne monocytes and resident microglia. The distinction made in this study between the beneficial role of CSPG during the acute stage and its deleterious effect at later stages emphasizes the need to retain the endogenous potential of this molecule in repair by controlling its levels at different stages of post-injury repair.
Michal Schwartz and colleagues describe the role of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan in the repair of injured tissue and in the recovery of motor function during the acute phase after spinal cord injury.
Editors' Summary
Every year, spinal cord injuries paralyze about 10,000 people in the United States. The spinal cord, which contains bundles of nervous system cells called neurons, is the communication superhighway between the brain and the body. Messages from the brain travel down the spinal cord to control movement, breathing, and other bodily functions; messages from the skin and other sensory organs travel up the spinal cord to keep the brain informed about the body. All these messages are transmitted along axons, long extensions on the neurons. The spinal cord is protected by the bones of the spine but if these are displaced or broken, the axons can be compressed or cut, which interrupts the information flow. Damage near the top of the spinal cord paralyzes the arms and legs (tetraplegia); damage lower down paralyzes the legs only (paraplegia). Spinal cord injuries also cause other medical problems, including the loss of bowel and bladder control. Currently there is no effective treatment for spinal cord injuries. Treatment with drugs to reduce inflammation has, at best, only modest effects. Moreover, because damaged axons rarely regrow, most spinal cord injuries are permanent.
Why Was This Study Done?
One barrier to recovery after a spinal cord injury seems to be an inappropriate immune response to the injury. After an injury, microglia (immune system cells that live in the nervous system), and macrophages (blood-borne immune system cells that infiltrate the injury) become activated. Microglia/macrophage activation can be either beneficial (the cells make IGF-1, a protein that stimulates axon growth) or destructive (the cells make TNF-α, a protein that kills neurons), so studies of microglia/macrophage activation might suggest ways to treat spinal cord injuries. Another possible barrier to recovery is “chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan” (CSPG). This is a major component of the scar tissue (the “glial scar”) that forms around spinal cord injuries. CSPG limits axon regrowth, so attempts have been made to improve spinal cord repair by removing CSPG. But if CSPG prevents spinal cord repair, why is so much of it made immediately after an injury? In this study, the researchers investigate this paradox by asking whether CSPG made in the right place and in the right amount might have a beneficial role in spinal cord repair that has been overlooked.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers bruised a small section of the spinal cord of mice to cause hind limb paralysis, and then monitored the recovery of movement in these animals. They also examined the injured tissue microscopically, looked for microglia and infiltrating macrophages at the injury site, and measured the production of IGF-1 and TNF-α by these cells. Inhibition of CSPG synthesis immediately after injury impaired the functional recovery of the mice and increased tissue loss at the injury site. It also altered the spatial organization of infiltrating macrophages at the injury site, reduced IGF-1 production by these microglia/macrophages, and increased TNF-α levels. In contrast, when CSPG synthesis was not inhibited until two days after the injury, the mice recovered well from spinal cord injury. Furthermore, the interaction of CSPG with a cell-surface protein called CD44 activated microglia/macrophages growing in dishes and increased their production of IGF-1 but not of molecules that kill neurons.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, immediately after a spinal cord injury, CSPG is needed for the repair of injured neurons and the recovery of movement, but that later on the presence of CSPG hinders repair. The findings also indicate that CSPG has these effects, at least in part, because it regulates the activity and localization of microglia and macrophages at the injury site and thus modulates local immune responses to the damage. Results obtained from experiments done in animals do not always accurately reflect the situation in people, so these findings need to be confirmed in patients with spinal cord injuries. However, they suggest that the effect of CSPG on spinal cord repair is not an inappropriate response to the injury, as is widely believed. Consequently, careful manipulation of CSPG levels might improve outcomes for people with spinal cord injuries.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia provides information about spinal cord injuries; MedlinePlus provides an interactive tutorial and a list of links to additional information about spinal cord injuries (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke also provides information about spinal cord injury (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on glial scars (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2517615  PMID: 18715114
17.  Split cord malformations: A two years experience at AIIMS 
Asian Journal of Neurosurgery  2012;7(2):56-60.
Over a 2-year period, 2008-2009, a total of 53 cases of split cord malformation (SCM) were treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). This study is a retrospective analysis of clinical features, radiological findings, and surgical outcome of these patients.
Materials and Methods:
During this period, 53 cases of SCM were treated at AIIMS. They constitute around 27% of all spinal dysraphism surgeries performed at the department of Neurosurgery, AIIMS; as 200 cases of spinal dysraphism were operated during the study period. The data was obtained from case files, operation notes, discharge summaries, and follow-up files.
There were 30 cases of SCM type I and 23 cases of type II SCM. Seven patients were adult above 18 years of age. Except 7 patients, remaining 46 were symptomatic. Bony deformity of spine was recorded in 24 patients; of them, 19 had scoliosis and 4 had kyphosis. Deformity of foot was recorded in 10 patients. Thirteen patients had hypertrichosis, while four had dermal sinus. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed in all patients. MRI revealed syringomyelia in 14 patients; however, only one patient had associated Chiari malformation. Six patients had meningomyelocele. Intra-operative; thick filum was noticed in 10 cases and in another 9 cases, there was filum lipoma. Dermoid was encountered in 4 patients, one patient had epidermoid tumor. Site of split was thoracic in 22, followed by lumbar region in 21 patients. Only 3 patients had split in cervical spinal cord. Seven patients had two separate splits at two different levels. Two patients had posteriorly located bony spur. All patients underwent surgery. Seven patients, those who had no neurological deficits pre-op, remained unchanged post-op. Amongst the 46 patients who had preoperative neurological deficits, eight had neurological deterioration post-op; five had deterioration in motor power and three had urinary problem. Five of these patients had type Id split, 2 had type Ic split, and one had type Ib split. However, among 8 patients who deteriorated post-op, four improved to preoperative status by the time of discharge. Thus, 4/53(7%) patients had long-term deficits, all with type Id split. Follow-up data was available for 36 patients (68%) and mean follow-up period was 12 months (range 6-24 months). Follow-up MRI revealed decrease in syringomyelic cavity in 6 of the 14 patients (44%) who had syringomyelia on preoperative MRI scans.
Overall, SCM is an uncommon condition. In all cases of progressive scoliosis, MRI must be carried out. We subjected all asymptomatic patients to surgery and none developed post-op deterioration. Overall post-op neurological deterioration was noticed in 15% patients, of which 8% had transient post-operative deterioration. The new Type I SCM subclassification system proposed by Mahapatra and Gupta is found to have a significant prognostic value in assessing post-operative neurological deterioration in patients with type I SCM.
PMCID: PMC3410161  PMID: 22870152
Spinal dysraphism; split cord malformation; unified theory
18.  Split cord malformation – A study of 300 cases at AIIMS 1990–2006 
Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences  2011;6(Suppl1):S41-S45.
Split cord malformation (SCM) is a rare condition. With decreasing incidence of neural tube defect (NTD) in the West, the reports of SCM are getting lesser and lesser. However, in India, spinal dysraphism is still a major problem encountered by the neurosurgeons.
Our aim was to analyze 300 patients of SCM for their clinical features, radiological findings and outcome of surgery, which can throw light on the subject to others, who have less scope of finding these cases frequently.
Materials and Methods:
Over a 16-year period, we encountered 300 cases of SCM at AIIMS. Over the same period, more than 1500 cases of NTD were managed. SCM was noticed in 20% of cases with NTD. Skin stigmata were noted in two-third of the cases, and scoliosis and foot deformity were observed in 50% and 48% cases, respectively. Motor and sensory deficits were observed in 80% and 70% cases, respectively. Commonest site affected was lumbar or dorsolumbar (55% and 23%, respectively). In 3% cases, it was cervical in location. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan revealed a large number of anomalies like lipoma, neuroenteric cyst, thick filum and dermoid or epidermoid cysts. All the patients were surgically treated. In type I, bony spurs were excised, and in type II, bands tethering the cord were released. Associated anomalies were managed in the same sitting. Patients were followed up from 3 months to 3 years.
Overall improvement was noticed in 50% and stabilization in 44% cases and deterioration of neurological status was recorded in 6% cases. However, 50% of those who deteriorated improved to preop status prior to discharge, 7-10 days following surgery.
SCM is rare and not many large series are available. We operated 300 cases and noticed a large number of associated anomalies and also multilevel and multisite splits. Improvement or stabilization was noted in 94% and deterioration in 6% cases. We recommended prophylactic surgery for our asymptomatic patients.
PMCID: PMC3208912  PMID: 22069430
Good outcome; prophylactic surgery; role of magnetic resonance imaging; split cord malformation; surgery
19.  Tethered Spinal Cord with Double Spinal Lipomas 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2006;21(6):1133-1135.
Although lumbosacral lipoma is reported to occur in 4-8 of 100,000 patients, and 66% of lipomyelomeningoceles in young patients are accompanied by hypertrophic filum terminale, it is very rare to find two isolated spinal lipomas simultaneously. A 3 month-old baby girl was admitted to the hospital for a protruding, non-tender, soft, subcutaneous 2.5 cm mass of the lumbosacral area that had been present since birth. Simple radiography showed a spinal posterior arch defect from L3 to L5, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated two isolated spinal lipomas, a transitional type from L3 to L5, and a terminal type below S1 without dural defect. The cornus medullaris was severely tethered descending to the S1, but there was no cerebellar or brain stem herniation on the MRI. We suggest that the presence of a combined spinal lipoma should be a point for careful differentiation in an infant with spinal lipoma.
PMCID: PMC2721945  PMID: 17179703
Lipoma; Spinal Dysraphism; Tethered Cord Syndrome; Neural Tube Defects
20.  Spinal dysraphism: A challenge continued to be faced by neurosurgeons in developing countries 
Asian Journal of Neurosurgery  2014;9(2):68-71.
The incidence of spinal dysraphism has significantly decreased over the last few decades, all over the world; however, still the incidence is much higher in developing countries with poor socioeconomic status.
Materials and Methods:
The present study includes all patients managed for spinal dysraphism over a period of one year (January 2011-December 2011). Details including demographics, antenatal care history, site and type of lesion, neurological examination, imaging finding, associated congenital anomalies, management offered, and outcome were recorded.
A total of 27 children were operated for spinal dysraphism during the study period (17 males and 11 females). Median age was 120 days (age range, 1 day to 6 years). Mothers of 15 children did not seek any regular antenatal checkup and only 13 mothers received folic acid supplementation during pregnancy. Fourteen children were delivered at home and 13 were at hospital. The most common site was lumbosacral region (67.8%). Seven patients had rupture of the sac at the time of presentation, one child had local infection, and four patients had hydrocephalus (requiring shunt before surgical repair). Two patients developed hydrocephalus at follow up, needing shunt surgery. The mean hospital stay was 7 days (range, 5 days to 31 days; median, 10 days).
Spinal dysraphism is still a major public health problem in developing countries. Management of patients with spinal dysraphism is complex and needs close coordination between pediatrician, neurologist, neurosurgeon, and rehabilitation experts. A large number of factors influence the outcome.
PMCID: PMC4129580  PMID: 25126121
Meningocele; myelomeningocele; spinal dysraphism
21.  Neurenteric cysts of the spine 
Neurenteric cysts account for 0.7-1.3% of spinal axis tumors. These rare lesions result from the inappropriate partitioning of the embryonic notochordal plate and presumptive endoderm during the third week of human development. Heterotopic rests of epithelium reminiscent of gastrointestinal and respiratory tissue lead to eventual formation of compressive cystic lesions of the pediatric and adult spine. Histopathological analysis of neurenteric tissue reveals a highly characteristic structure of columnar or cuboidal epithelium with or without cilia and mucus globules. Patients with symptomatic neurenteric cysts typically present in the second and third decades of life with size-dependent myelopathic and/or radicular signs. Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography are essential diagnostic tools for the delineation of cyst form and overlying osseous architecture. A variety of approaches have been employed in the treatment of neurenteric cysts each with a goal of total surgical resection. Although long-term outcome analyses are limited, data available indicate that surgical intervention in the case of neurenteric cysts results in a high frequency of resolution of neurological deficit with minimal morbidity. However, recurrence rates as high as 37% have been reported with incomplete resection secondary to factors such as cyst adhesion to surrounding structure and unclear dissection planes. Here we present a systematic review of English language literature from January 1966 to December 2009 utilizing MEDLINE with the following search terminology: neurenteric cyst, enterogenous cyst, spinal cord tumor, spinal dysraphism, intraspinal cyst, intramedullary cyst, and intradural cyst. In addition, the references of publications returned from the MEDLINE search criteria were surveyed in order to examine other pertinent reports.
PMCID: PMC2944853  PMID: 20890417
Craniovertebral junction; enterogenous cyst; intraspinal cyst; neurenteric cyst; spinal cord tumor; spinal dysraphism
22.  Surgical Treatment of a Patient with Human Tail and Multiple Abnormalities of the Spinal Cord and Column 
Advances in Orthopedics  2010;2011:153797.
The dorsal cutaneous appendage, or so-called human tail, is often considered to be a cutaneous marker of underlying occult dysraphism. The authors present a case of human tail occurring in a 9-month-old infant with multiple abnormalities of the spinal cord and spine. Examination revealed unremarkable except for a caudal appendage and a dark pigmentation area in the low back. Neuroradiological scans revealed cleft vertebrae and bifid ribbon, split cord malformations, block vertebrae, and hemivertebra. Surgical excision of the tail and untethering the spinal cord by removal of the septum were performed. The infant had an uneventful postoperative period and was unchanged neurologically for 18 months of followup. To our knowledge, no similar case reports exist in the literature. The specific features in a rare case with a human tail treated surgically are discussed in light of the available literature.
PMCID: PMC3170723  PMID: 21991405
23.  Extra and Intramedullary Anaplastic Ependymoma in Thoracic Spinal Cord 
Korean Journal of Spine  2013;10(3):177-180.
Spinal ependymoma occupies 40-60% of primary spinal cord tumors and has a feature of intramedullary tumor. The tumor most commonly arises from the central canal of the spinal cord, the conus medullaris or the filum terminale and its pathological features are usually benign. Unlike above characteristics, intra and extramedullary ependymomas are reported very rarely and have wide variety of histological features. We present a rare case of spinal anaplastic ependymoma with an accompanied exophytic lesions extramedullary as well. The tumor was poorly delineated between a spinal cord and the extramedullary components in operative view. After we had confirmed the frozen biopsy as anaplastic ependymoma, the remnant mass embedded in the spinal cord was remained because of its unclear resection margin and the risk of neurological deterioration. She underwent radiotherapy with 50.4 Gy, and there were newly developed mass lesions at the lumbosacral region on the MRI, 14 months postoperatively.
PMCID: PMC3941770  PMID: 24757483
Ependymoma; Exophytic; Intradural extramedullary
24.  Intradural Extramedullary and Subcutaneous Tumors in Neonate : Atypical Myxoid Spindle Cell Neoplasm 
Tumors of the central nervous system are common in the pediatric population and constitute the second most prevalent tumor type in children. Within this group, spinal cord tumors are relatively rare and account for 1 to 10% of all pediatric central nervous system tumors. We describe a very rare case of an intradural extramedullary spinal cord tumor with a subcutaneous mass and discuss its clinical presentation, pathogenesis, and treatment. A male infant was delivered normally, with uneventful development. At 16 days post-delivery, his family took him to a pediatrician because of a mass on his upper back. Magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracic spine revealed a well-demarcated soft-tissue mass with central cystic change or necrosis at the subcutaneous layer of the posterior back (T2-7 level). Another mass was found with a fat component at the spinal canal of the T1-3 level, which was intradural extramedullary space. After six weeks, the spinal cord tumor and subcutaneous mass were grossly total resected; pathologic findings indicated an atypical myxoid spindle cell neoplasm, possibly nerve sheath in type. The final diagnosis of the mass was an atypical myxoid spindle cell neoplasm. The postoperative course was uneventful, and the patient was discharged after nine days without any neurological deficit. We report a rare case of an intradural extramedullary spinal tumor with subcutaneous mass in a neonate. It is necessary to monitor the patient's status by examining consecutive radiologic images, and the symptoms and neurological changes should be observed strictly during long-term follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3488656  PMID: 23133736
Intradural extramedullary spinal cord neoplasm; Neonate; Congenital
25.  Preoperative Predictors for Improvement after Surgical Untethering in Occult Tight Filum Terminale Syndrome 
Pediatric neurosurgery  2009;45(4):256-261.
An occult tight filum terminale syndrome has been described wherein clinical symptoms result from tension on the spinal cord despite nondiagnostic spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Recent reports have suggested a role for surgical untethering in this patient population; however, controversy remains regarding the surgical treatment of this condition. Owing to the various clinical presentations, the relationship of presenting signs and symptoms to postoperative outcomes might be useful in surgical selection.
A retrospective review was conducted of 22 pediatric cases of surgical untethering for suspected occult tight filum terminale syndrome. All patients had nondiagnostic MRI findings, defined as a conus medullaris above the L3 vertebral body and a filum terminale diameter of less than 2 mm. Preoperative symptoms, signs and urodynamic test results were collected and compared with surgical outcomes determined by clinical notes and postoperative urodynamics reports. Abnormal findings on presentation were categorized as dermatologic, urologic, orthopedic and neurologic.
Patient age ranged from 7 months to 17 years, and 12 were female. Sixteen (73%) patients experienced subjective and/or objective improvement following surgical untethering. Fourteen patients had abnormal preoperative urodynamic testing, of which 12 underwent postoperative urodynamic testing. Five of these 12 (42%) demonstrated objective improvement postoperatively. Patients presenting with abnormal findings in at least 2 categories were more likely to improve following untethering (88%) than those with abnormalities in only 1 category (20%; p = 0.009).
Spinal cord untethering is a treatment option for occult tight filum terminale syndrome. Further evaluation of the relationship between preoperative findings and surgical outcomes may facilitate the selection of surgical candidates.
PMCID: PMC2790785  PMID: 19609093
Occult tight filum terminale syndrome; Spinal cord; Surgical untethering

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