Thursday, January 3, 2008

What Does Spinal Surgery Have to do with Chiari?

When I tell people that I am having spinal surgery prior to the brain tail surgery I often get blank stares and perplexed looks in return. What does the spine have to do with the brain?? Well ~ everything ~ they are connected. I thought I would take a moment to try and explain the reasoning behind the surgery to release my spinal cord.

Studies have proven that Chiari can be acquired due to a fatty filum terminale (thread like structure that connects the lower end of the spinal cord to the bony spinal column).

"A filum which is unusually thick or fatty may lose its natural elasticity and pull down on the spinal cord, effectively placing it in traction. When this force is enough to pull the end of the spinal cord below the L2 vertebra it is considered to be tethered cord. This type of downward traction can cause symptoms such as bladder and bowel dysfunction and leg pain and weakness. A tight filum is treated by cutting it and releasing the tension."
So basically, TCI believes that my brain tail is being pulled downward into my spine due to a tight filum terminale. The good news is that the only side effects I have from this right now are weakness and pain in my legs. By having the surgery now I will avoid permanent neurological damage if left untreated.

The procedure to release the thickened filum involves a laminectomy at one or two levels in the lumbar or sacral spine to expose the site of the tether, and a division of the tight filum is made. The filum has no neurological function. After the surgery I will have to lay flat on my back for 24 hours to prevent a CSF leak.

If you want more info there are some links on the sidebar on my blog ~ TCI has made the ground breaking discovery that ties Chiari to Tethered Cord ~ truely amazing stuff. You can also click here for an explanation of the TC surgery.


Anonymous said...

That's what I'm saying. You cut through the stuff to explain it in dumby terms for those of us that want it simple and replicable. This helps me a lot not only to understand but to be able to explain it to others as I did last night to my men's group who understood and will pray for you through out the pending adventure. Thanks Baby, this helps a lot. Thanks also for the surgery link you sent as well. Now I'm up-to-date with your latest postings. You inspire me so in my own current struggle to walk "in the middle." I love you dearly, and I'm honored to be your father.

Anonymous said...

WOW! It is so completely overwhelming. It is times such as these that I am so thankful to have faith. I am ofter praying and thinking about you all. -Kim

Katie said...

Lace, how did they find out that your cord was tethered? Do you mind my asking if you have any kind of exterior mark on your skin on your lower back? Or rather, I guess, do you mind that I've already asked it? (You don't have to answer. I'm only asking because my infant niece is undergoing a series of tests for spinal cord problems due to a skin pucker in her lower back and I didn't know if you'd had the same sort of thing).

When is the surgery scheduled? Good luck!

Katie said...

Hey Lace, I tagged you for a Meme. No pressure or hurry!