Can we fly?

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Can we fly?

Postby marymac » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:40 am

Hi Ho Friends

Does the syrinx interfere with commercial airline travel? 2 out of 3 doctors told me not to do it, the other said wear the neck brace and brace myself when landing. I also wonder if the syrinx itself might swell in changing altitudes. I"d be grateful for your opinions. (My syrinx is from C6 conus: all the way down).
Thanks and hope you can enjoy your day.
Central disc herniations C5-6 and C6-7, extensive syringohydromyelia cavity throughout the cervical & thoracic cord (large syrinx from C6 inferiorly.)

"Every day is a gift: Thats why it's called the Present"
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Re: Can we fly?

Postby KarenAnn » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:09 am

This is an interesting question as I flew for the first time in years just a few months before my symptoms flared up to an all time high. Never even considered flying could've triggered it...
T3-T11 syrinx-Symptomatic since age 5-Found @ age 35
12 bulging discs with C4/5,T6/7, & L4/5 causing the most compression
CSF secretions throughout abdomen
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Re: Can we fly?

Postby reedy » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:02 am

In principle, you can most definitely fly. I fly a lot, and have flown within 2 weeks of having a lumboperitoneal shunt put in, and also after a major laminectomy, duroplasty and syringotomy. In both cases I was cleared to fly right after my hospital discharge by a doctor who I respect greatly and who is not a risk taker. Dr Heiss is the PI (essentially director) of the biggest syringomyelia study executed to date, and I'd guess most of his patients fly in and out from surgery to see him.

I've had my syringomyelia diagnosis for about 5 years. In early stages I was still SCUBA diving and not only didn't have trouble, but felt much better after diving. Changes in pressure while diving are many multiples greater than you experience flying. However, the jury is out on whether its a good idea to dive with a syrinx! Not many people ask that question. Although I've asked it of every neurosurgeon they all say they don't know. Many reply immediately that it sounds like a bad idea, but then when you quiz them on the pressure reasons, it turns out there is no mechanical reason why it should be a problem. You need to keep your pressure constant within your body, but the fluids do that unless you hold your breath and do a really big Valsalva maneuver (breath-holdng and pushing, as when you clear your ears). If you got the bends and you had a syrinx, you might be in an especially risky situation. I have also discussed this at some length with a colleague who is a professional developer of new diving technology, who dives in super deep dives (8 hours, 400 feet) and by happenstance also has a very scarred spinal cord due to a dive accident when he was young. He says that the new self-contained breathers will actually make the risk of diving for people like us almost nil. I've also discussed this with a professional diving doctor (who certifies industrial divers for safety). He has certified me to keep doing my (scientific research) diving in the past, after I had a syrinx diagnosis. He did this only after consultation with a whole conference of other dive doctors. However...end of the story...I haven't been diving now for a few years as I'm becoming a bit weak. I think my weak hands present a risk. I am hoping to get back to it, though, if I stabilize!

Thus, back to your question, flying should not be an issue from a pressure change perspective. It may well be if you have an uncomfortable, cramped seat and also need to go to the bathroom/loo a lot. I've been buying extra legroom seats and it makes a big difference. You might also find some challenges in getting travel insurance, though I have found a place that was OK with this condition (Halifax, UK).
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Re: Can we fly?

Postby June » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:28 pm

My syrinx is t6-t8/9, 4mm. I have flown quite a bit since my diagnosis, and before for that matter, with no discernible problems. Travel, in general, wears me out and causes pain, but I think it is more the stress and aggravation of lines and security checks than of actual flying. I do get up and walk around periodically if the flight is very long. And I always reserve an aisle seat if possible--a bit more room, and I can stretch out my legs when no one is coming down the aisle. Getting up is more convenient, too.
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