Introduction: A variety of surgical interventions have been recommended for patients with syringomyelia and Chiari malformation. To obtain a better understanding of currently used management strategies and surgical interventions, this study evaluates current opinions in the treatment of these entities. Methods: Members of the Pediatric Section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) were surveyed in July of 1998. A questionnaire was designed to assess (1) management of asymptomatic and symptomatic cases; (2) signs and symptoms that warrant surgical intervention, and (3) surgical strategies. Seventy-seven of 234 surveys (33%) were returned. Responses were entered in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for data analysis. Results: Each year, respondents evaluated on average 10 patients with confirmed syringomyelia and operated on 7. There was substantial agreement to operate on patients with syringomyelia who had progressive scoliosis or progressive motor/sensory loss. For isolated syringomyelia without a Chiari malformation, the majority of respondents recommended shunting of the syrinx. Opinion was mixed concerning physical restrictions for asymptomatic patients with syringomyelia and Chiari malformations. For Chiari malformations, the majority of respondents recommended a minimum cervicomedullary decompression with dural patch grafting. No consensus was obtained on whether dural patch grafting should be done alone or in combination with intradural dissection or manipulation of the tonsils. Conclusion: Although many respondents agreed on the management and surgical treatment of symptomatic patients with syringomyelia and/or Chiari malformations, there was disagreement with regard to the optimal surgical procedure. Respondents rejected prophylactic surgery for their asymptomatic patients, choosing to follow them conservatively with serial imaging and neurological examinations.

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