Diagnosis of tethered cords by magnetic resonance imaging

Walter A. Hall, A. Leland Albright, James A Brunberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Thirty children presented with signs and/or symptoms of tethered spinal cord, 13 in association with spina bifida occulta and 17 after myelomeningocele repair. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 27 children showed tethering (27), intradural fat (17), distal syrinxes (8), and thickened filum terminale (2). There was an excellent correlation between MRI and the surgical findings. Postoperative MRI was obtained within 1 year after operation in 14 children; spinal cord ascent was seen on only four studies and retethering was suspected on five studies. We consider MRI the procedure of choice to diagnose a tethered cord because this technique accurately defines anatomical relationships without risk to the patient. In addition, we conclude that cord ascent is seen less often than expected and that retethering may occur, especially to cadaveric dura mater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-64
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Conus medullaris
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal dysraphism
  • Tethered cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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