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Retethering after transection of a tight filum terminale, postoperative MRI may help to identify patients at risk

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Retethering after transection of a tight filum terminale (TFT) deemed to be a rare and usually only years after initial surgery occurring complication. Possible perioperative factors that might influence the retethering rate or help to allow a prognostic risk assessment are still poorly investigated. The aim of this study was to analyze our patient cohort who underwent a TFT transection by assessing clinical outcome, retethering rate, and pre- and postoperative MRI studies.


All consecutive patients undergoing transection of a TFT from January 2011 to December 2018 were evaluated. Inclusion criteria were defined as exclusive TFT intervention and a minimum follow up period of 1 year. Epidemiological data, treatment modalities, complication characteristics, and MRI studies were recorded and analyzed.


A total of 58 patients met our inclusion criteria. The retethering rate in our patient cohort was 5.2% (3/58); one of the three patients developed two episodes of a retethering. Patients with an unchanged conus level, no improvement in the syringomyelia, and an unchanged thickness of the spinal cord postoperatively seem to have a significant higher risk to develop a retethering episode in the follow-up.


Retethering after transection of the filum terminale did occur more often than expected. Certain existing factors on the routine postoperative MR images may help to identify patients with an increased likelihood to develop a retethering episode. These results may contribute to improve the follow-up for patients after transection of a TFT and may facilitate adequate treatment.

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Correspondence to Ulrich-Wilhelm Thomale.

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Finger, T., Schaumann, A., Grillet, F. et al. Retethering after transection of a tight filum terminale, postoperative MRI may help to identify patients at risk. Childs Nerv Syst 36, 1499–1506 (2020).

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