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Engineering models to explain the origins of syringomyelia – Dr. Serge Cirovic

August 17, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

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Serge Cirovic, The Centre for Biomedical Engineering, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Engineering models to explain the origins of syringomyelia

Syringomyelia is a severe progressive pathological condition in which fluid-filled cavities form and grow in the spinal cord at the expense of the normal nervous tissue. There is strong evidence that syringomyelia is linked to obstructions to the movement of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear water-like fluid that bathes the brain and the spinal cord. However, the exact mechanism of cyst formation and growth has defied explanation for decades. The lack of understanding of the origins of the condition limits the success of currently available surgical treatments. Syringomyelia is usually linked with Chiari malformation, a congenital condition in which underdevelopment of the skull causes the lower portion of the brain to protrude into the spinal cavity and obstruct the normal communication between the cranial and spinal CSF. Syringomyelia and Chiari affect, and have the same manifestation in, both humans and animals. Some breeds of dogs are particularly predisposed; in King Charles spaniels almost all dogs suffer from Chiari, and many but not all, develop syringomyelia. With the lack of clinical explanation for the aetiology of this condition, engineers and mathematicians resorted to computer models in order to identify possible physical mechanisms that can lead to this pathology. The modelling approaches involve the analysis of the CSF wave modes, axi-symmetric finite element models of the spinal cavity, and (much less commonly) three-dimensional models of the spinal cord and the surrounding anatomy. While engineering models have helped in dismissing old theories and generating new ones on the origin of syringomyelia, no clear answers have emerged as yet and efforts to understand this enigmatic condition continue.

Dr Serge Cirovic, University of Surrey, UK

Serge Cirovic obtained the MEng degree in Aerospace Engineering from University of Belgrade, Serbia. He completed his MSc Biomedical Engineering (1996) and PhD Aerospace Engineering (2001) at the University of Toronto, Canada. Dr Cirovic worked as a research consultant at Defence Research and Development Canada (1996-2003), where he developed models to examine the effect of high G forces on the cerebral circulation of fighter pilots. In 2003 he moved to the UK where he was involved in computer modelling of the Shaken Baby Syndrome at University of Sheffield, before assuming a Lectureship position at University of Surrey in 2006. Dr Cirovic is the Programme Director of the MSc in Biomedical Engineering at University of Surrey where he teaches Biomechanics and Computer Modelling to undergraduate and MSc students. Currently, his main research interest is in using computer models to understand the aetiology of pathological conditions arising from low-level mechanical stimuli. He is also interested in modelling the effect of high-amplitude transient pressure waves used in the clinical treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.



August 17, 2016
1:30 pm
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EB3 3122