Dural dilation is a very common symptom associated with Marfan syndrome. The syndrome affects the way connective tissue develops and can have many effects on overall health. In the case of a dilated dura, the part of the spine or brain column called the dura enlarges. The resulting symptoms depend on the specific situation and the area in which the enlargement occurs. Often, people may experience some degree of pain, and treatment is aimed at relieving pain symptoms.
Some people also develop cysts in the affected area, which can make symptoms worse. It is thought that this condition is most likely to occur in the lower spine, as these areas have the highest fluid pressure on the dura mater. Despite this, dural expansion can occasionally occur elsewhere, such as above the spine in the neck or back.
Monitor people with Marfan syndrome for possible development of the disorder, several other types of disorders can also increase the risk of dural enlargement. Inherited disorders, such as neurofibromatosis, sometimes cause the dura to widen or swell. Another connective tissue disorder, the syndrome is associated with a higher likelihood of developing this disorder. In most cases, the largest share of cases came from Mafans, and the percentages varied in terms of how common they were. Some believe that more than 90% of adults with Marfan syndrome may experience this complication, while others believe a more reasonable percentage is around 50-60%.
Some people have a widened dura mater with few symptoms. Others experience conditions such as chronic low back pain, headaches, and decreased pelvic movement or sensation, which can make bowel movements difficult. The pain may depend on the area of dura expansion, and since this is usually the lower back, people may describe pain in the buttocks, lower back, coccyx, pelvis, or stomach.
When such symptoms occur, especially if the person has one of the predisposing conditions listed above, most doctors will order magnetic resonance imaging of the spine to confirm or rule out dural dilatation. Other scans are sometimes used, but studies have shown that they are less accurate for visualization problems. Much of the medical community agrees that MRI is the best diagnostic technique.
If dural dilatation is diagnosed, it depends on symptoms. The type and amount of pain control will vary depending on symptom expression. Some people suffer from the disease and require little or no treatment, while others are greatly affected and require pain management and control. In rare cases, surgery is attempted, but it is usually treated with pain medication. Care must be taken if any spinal surgery is attempted in the future, as this condition can cause the dura mater and sometimes the spine to become more fragile.