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Neurosurgical untethering with or without syrinx drainage results in high patient satisfaction and favorable clinical outcome in post-traumatic myelopathy patients

Spinal Cord (2018) | Download Citation


Study design

Retrospective data collection and patient-reported outcome measures.


To investigate surgical outcome, complications, and patient satisfaction in patients with chronic SCI and symptomatic post-traumatic progressive myelopathy (PPM) who underwent neurosurgical untethering and/or spinal cord cyst drainage with the aim of preventing further neurological deterioration.


Single-center study at an academic neurosurgery department.


All SCI patients who underwent neurosurgery between 1996 and 2013 were retrospectively included. All medical charts and the treating surgeon’s operative reports were reviewed to identify surgical indications, surgical technique, and post-operative complications. A questionnaire and an EQ-5D-instrument were used to assess patient's self-described health status and satisfaction at long-term follow-up.


Fifty-two patients (43 men, 9 women) were identified, of whom five were dead and one was lost to follow-up. Main indications for surgery were pain (54%), motor (37%), or sensory (8%) impairment, and spasticity (2.0%). Overall complications were rare (8%). At follow-up, the subjectively perceived outcome was improved in 24 and remained unchanged in 21 patients. Thus, the surgical aim was met in 87% of patients. Of the 46 eligible patients, 38 responded to the questionnaire of whom 65% were satisfied with the surgical results. Patients with cervical lesions were more satisfied with the surgical treatment than patients with thoracic/thoracolumbar lesions (p = 0.05).


Neurosurgical untethering and/or cyst drainage in chronic SCI patients and PPM resulted in a high degree of patient satisfaction, particularly in cervical SCI patients with minimal complications.

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This study received funds from Uppsala University Hospital (to NM and UH) and the Swedish Research Council and from Personskadeförbundet RTP (to NM).

Author information

Author notes

  1. Deseased: Anders Holtz.


  1. Department of Neuroscience and Neurosurgery, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

    • Ulrika Holmström
    • , Parmenion P. Tsitsopoulos
    • , Hjalmar Flygt
    • , Anders Holtz
    •  & Niklas Marklund
  2. Hippokratio General Hospital, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece

    • Parmenion P. Tsitsopoulos
  3. Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Neurosurgery, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

    • Niklas Marklund


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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Niklas Marklund.

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