Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
To diagnose syringomyelia, your doctor will begin by asking about your medical history and doing a complete physical examination.
If your doctor suspects syringomyelia, you'll likely undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your spine and spinal cord. An MRI is the most reliable tool for diagnosing syringomyelia.
Using magnetic fields and radio waves, an MRI produces 3-D, high-resolution images of your spine and spinal cord. If a syrinx has developed within your spinal cord, your doctor will be able to see it on an MRI. A dye or contrast medium can be injected for the test, and once it travels to your spine, it can enhance the MRI images. Over time, repeat MRIs can be used to monitor the progression of syringomyelia.
In some cases, syringomyelia may be discovered incidentally when a spine MRI or computerized tomography (CT) scan is done for other reasons.
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