Slosh Simulation in a Computer Model of Canine Syringomyelia

Summary

The exact pathogenesis of syringomyelia is unknown. Epidural venous distention during raised intrathoracic pressure (Valsalva) may cause impulsive movement of fluid (“slosh”) within the syrinx. Such a slosh mechanism is a proposed cause of syrinx dissection into spinal cord parenchyma resulting in craniocaudal propagation of the cavity. We sought to test the “slosh” hypothesis by epidural excitation of CSF pulse in a computer model of canine syringomyelia. Our previously developed canine syringomyelia computer model was modified to include an epidural pressure pulse. Simulations were run for: cord free of cavities; cord with small syringes at different locations; and cord with a syrinx that was progressively expanding caudally. If small syringes are present, there are peaks of stress at those locations. This effect is most pronounced at the locations at which syringes initially form. When a syrinx is expanding caudally, the peak stress is typically at the caudal end of the syrinx. However, when the syrinx reaches the lumbar region; the stress becomes moderate. The findings support the “slosh” hypothesis, suggesting that small cervical syringes may propagate caudally. However, when the syrinx is large, there is less focal stress, which may explain why a syrinx can rapidly expand but then remain unchanged in shape over years.

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