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Syringomyelia: a practical, clinical concept for classification

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BACKGROUND: The term syringomyelia describes many pathogenetically different disorders, and a variety of attempts to group these based on different criteria have been proposed in the literature. As a consequence a lack of consensus regarding classification and terminology exists. This inconsistency extends to the ICD-10 classification of diseases in regards to syringomyelia (G95.0) and hydromyelia (Q06.4). We propose a new unifying concept for classification that also incorporates diagnostics and treatment.

METHODS: The PubMed online database was used to gain a general overview of the existing pathogenetic theories in relation to syringomyelia. Illustrative cases at our department were included and similar cases of the literature were found using the PubMed database. All material was reviewed with main focus on the classification and terminology used.

RESULTS: Despite syringomyelia (G95.0) and hydromyelia (Q06.4) existing as independent ICD-10 entities, we have shown that the use of classifying terminology for fluid-filled cavities in the spinal cord is indiscriminate and inconsistent. Even though a general agreement on the believed pathogenetic mechanism exists, and the general treatment methods are used in accordance with this mechanism, the terminology fails to function as a simple and universal link between theory and treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: We propose a new causal concept for an ICD classification with syringomyelia (G95.0) as the only describing terminology, thus abandoning the use of hydromyelia (Q06.4). Syringomyelia is divided into five subgroups according to the associated pathologies. The classification is based on applied diagnostics and serves as a clinical guidance for treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2127-38
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Nov 2014

ID: 44890839