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What is an insertion of syrinx shunt?

A Syrinx is a disease in which fluid filled cavities form within the spinal cord and compress the nerve fibres.

A Syrinx shunt is a tube (shunt) inserted into the fluid filled cavity within the spinal cord to allow the fluid to drain away.

A cut in the skin is made which corresponds to the correct level of the fluid filled cavity. Some bone from the spine is removed and a small cut is made in the spinal cord.

A small piece of plastic tubing (shunt) is placed into the fluid filled cavity. The fluid from the cavity can be drained into the fluid around the spinal cord or to another site.

The cut will be closed with stitches or staples.

My Anaesthetic

This procedure will require a General Anaesthetic.

See About your Anaesthetic information sheet for information about the anaesthetic and the risks involved. If you have any concerns, talk these over with your doctor.

If you have not been given an information sheet, please ask for one.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are some risks/complications with this procedure.

Common risks include:

  • Infection. This may need antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Minor pain, bruising and/or infection from IV cannula site. This may require treatment with antibiotics.
  • The disability or symptoms you have may not be improved by surgery.
  • The disability you have may increase despite surgery.
  • Areas of numbness may occur post-surgery. This may be temporary or permanent.

Uncommon risks include:

  • Bleeding. A return to the operating room for further surgery may be required if bleeding occurs. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
  • A heart attack because of the strain on the heart.
  • Stroke or stroke like complications can occur which can cause weakness in the face, arms and legs. This could be temporary or permanent.
  • Injury to the spinal cord may result in quadriplegia. This could be temporary or permanent.
  • Dependant on the location and severity of the cyst, bladder, bowel or breathing problems could occur after surgery. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • The shunt may not go into the correct position. This may require further surgery to re-position the shunt.
  • The shunt may become blocked. This would require further treatment.
  • Spinal fluid may leak through the wound which may cause infection and poor wound healing. This would require further treatment.
  • Small areas of the lung may collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increase risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
  • Clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) with pain and swelling. Rarely part of this clot may break off and go into the lungs.

Rare risks include:

  • Death is rare due to this procedure.

  • royal-australasian-college-of-surgeons
  • flinders-medical-centre
  • cmc-vellore
  • calvary-adelaide-hospital
  • Neurosurgical Research Foundation