Syringomyelia is a centromedullary syndrome that can be treated conservatively or with various neurosurgical procedures. We hypothesized that different clinical subgroups of patients exist, which would necessitate the need for individualised neurosurgical intervention and maintenance to achieve optimal quality of life (QoL). Using both the short-form 36-item (SF-36) questionnaire and the Syringomyelia Disability Index, clinical and QoL data was prospectively assessed in 142 patients with syringomyelia. Cluster analysis was then performed on the subscale results of the SF-36. The SF-36 scores of those with syringomyelia were significantly lower than those of the general German population, as well as when compared to those patients suffering from other chronic diseases. The SF-36 scores were independent of the syringomyelia patients’ underlying syrinx pathology. Cluster analysis of the QoL patterns revealed four indicative patient groups. Syringomyelia is a chronic, progressive disease, and the syrinx itself appears to be the source of the symptoms, rather than the underlying pathology. The identified QoL subgroups in syringomyelia patients indicate the necessity of appropriate diagnosis and treatment of the pathology so that expansion of the syrinx cavity is reduced, maintaining QoL and functionality of these patients.
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Accepted: April 27, 2009
Received: February 18, 2009
© 2009 Elsevier Ltd. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.