Last reviewed 01/2018

Myelomalacia is seen as an ill-defined area of abnormal cord that can be visualised on MRI

  • myelomalacia is thought to occur at sites of cord oedema
  • may be associated with focal atrophy and has been described in patients as early as 2 months post injury
  • myelomalacia is the second most common finding in patients imaged more than 20 years after injury, with a prevalence of 55%. Approximately 75% of patients will have a complete spinal cord injury [1]
  • myelomalacia may be associated with syrinx formation [1,2]
  • MRI showing myelomalacia following spinal cord injury
    • seen as an ill-defined area of abnormal cord, which is hypointense on T1 (but hyperintense to CSF) and hyperintense on T2 compared with normal cord


  • 1) Wang D, Bodley R, Sett P, Gardner B, Frankel H. A clinical magnetic resonance imaging study of the traumatised spinal cord more than 20 years following injury. Paraplegia 1996;34:65-81
  • 2) Curati WL, Kingsley DPE, Kendall BE, Moseley IF. MRI in chronic spinal cord trauma. Neuroradiology 1992;35:30-5.