[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/157063]
Prof Marcus Stoodley
Brief description Cysts in the spinal cord (syringomyelia) develop in children and young adults with congenital spinal cord abnormalities such as spina bifida, and in people of all ages after spinal cord injury or meningitis. Syringomyelia causes pain and paralysis that usually does not improve even with treatment. The current lack of knowledge about the mechanism of spinal cord cyst formation and enlargement is preventing the development of effective therapy. We have previously shown that some types of spinal cord cysts enlarge by the normal fluid surrounding the spinal cord being pumped around small arteries into the centre of the spinal cord. The mechanism of enlargement of post-traumatic spinal cord cysts remains unknown, and this debilitating type of syringomyelia remains difficult to treat. Our hypothesis is that post-traumatic spinal cord cysts also enlarge by fluid being pumped into them around small arteries. A further hypothesis is that reductions of arterial pulsations and of the pressure in the fluid surrounding the spinal cord will prevent or inhibit cyst enlargement. These hypotheses will be tested by examining fluid flow in models of post-traumatic syringomyelia in rats and sheep. We have established a model of post-traumatic syringomyelia in rats and the first phase of the project will be to refine and characterize this model and to reproduce it in sheep. The second phase will be to determine whether these cysts enlarge by a flow of fluid around small arteries that is driven by arterial pulsations, as they do in other types of syringomyelia. The final phase will be to determine whether reducing the pressure in the fluid around the spinal cord prevents cyst enlargement. Confirmation that these techniques prevent cyst enlargement would open up new possibilities for the treatment of human syringomyelia.
Funding Amount $AUD 344,441.72
Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants
New Investigator Grant