ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Spinal cord cyst. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the cervical (neck) spinal cord of a 28 year old patient with syringomyelia, a cyst in the spinal cord. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. As it grows the cyst destroys tissue and compresses nerve fibres. This causes weakness of the limbs, pain and the loss of perception of extremes of temperature. Severe cases can lead to paralysis. The cyst may form due to an anatomical abnormality, or after trauma or infection. Treatment is with draining of the cyst, or surgical removal. Although in both cases the cyst may reform.
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