Typically situated posterolateral in the spinal canal, intraspinal facet cysts often cause radicular symptoms. Rarely, the midline location of these synovial or ganglion cysts may cause thecal sac compression leading to neurogenic claudication or cauda equina syndrome. This article summarizes the clinical presentation, radiographic appearance, and management of three intraspinal, midline facet cysts. Three patients with symptomatic midline intraspinal facet cysts were retrospectively reviewed. Documented clinical visits, operative notes, histopathology reports, and imaging findings were investigated for each patient. One patient presented with neurogenic claudication while two patients developed partial, subacute cauda equina syndrome. All 3 patients initially responded favorably to lumbar decompression and midline cyst resection; however, one patient required surgical stabilization 8 mo later. Following the three case presentations, we performed a thorough literature search in order to identify articles describing intraspinal cystic lesions in lateral or midline locations. Midline intraspinal facet cysts represent an uncommon cause of lumbar stenosis and thecal sac compression. Such entities should enter the differential diagnosis of midline posterior cystic lesions. Midline cysts causing thecal sac compression respond favorably to lumbar surgical decompression and cyst resection. Though laminectomy is a commonly performed operation, stabilization may be required in cases of spondylolisthesis or instability.
Midline; Synovial; Ganglion; Intraspinal; Cyst; Neurogenic; Claudication; Laminectomy; Facet
Sophisticated and newer imaging capabilities have resulted in increased reporting and treatment options of spinal lumbar synovial cysts (LSS). Most of the patients with lumbar cysts tend to be in their sixth decade of life with a slight female predominance. The incidence of LSS is thought to be less than 0.5% of the general symptomatic population. They may be asymptomatic and found incidentally or the epidural growth of cysts into the spinal canal can cause compression of neural structures and hence associated clinical symptoms. Most of the symptomatic LSS patients present with radicular pain and neurological deficits. Spinal synovial cysts are commonly found at L4-5 level, the site of maximum mobility. They may be unilateral or bilateral and at one or multilevel. MRI is considered the tool of choice for its diagnosis. The etiology of LSS is still unclear, but underlying spinal instability, facet joint arthropathy and degenerative spondylolisthesis has a strong association for worsening symptoms and formation of spinal cysts. Synovial cysts resistant to conservative therapy should be treated surgically. Resection and decompression with or without fusion and instrumentation remains an appropriate option. Synovial cysts may recur following surgery. The optimal approach for patients with juxtafacet LSS remains unclear. The best surgical treatment option for each particular individual should be tailored depending upon the symptoms, radiological findings and other co morbidities.
Lumbar synovial cysts; Spondylolisthesis; Conservative treatment; Surgical treatment; Resection and decompression; Spinal fusion
Intraspinal synovial cysts of vertebral facet joints are uncommon cause of radicular pain as well as neurological deficits. They can be managed both conservatively and surgically.
A 77-year old polymorbid patient presented with bilateral low back pain which worsened during the course of time and did not respond to the conservative treatment. A diagnosis of intraspinal synovial cyst was made using the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Percutaneous computed tomography (CT) guided injection with installation of local anesthetic together with corticosteroid and rupture of the cyst was successfully used. A month after the procedure his pain improved, the usage of analgesics diminished and his over-all quality of life improved.
Percutaneous CT guided lumbar synovial cyst treatment is safe and reliable alternative to the surgical treatment in polymorbid patients with radiculopathy who are not able to tolerate general anesthesia and operation.
intraspinal synovial cyst; polymorbid patient; radiculopathy; pain; percutaneous CT guided treatment
Synovial cysts are cystic dilations of synovial sheaths with or without anatomical continuity within a joint space that occasionally involve the lumbar spine. Image-guided aspiration has been used successfully in the management of lumbar synovial cysts. Synovial cysts of the cervical spine are rare, tend to present with myelopathic symptoms, and are classically treated using operative intervention. We report a novel approach for cervical synovial cyst aspiration under CT guidance.
A 66-year-old woman presented to the clinic complaining of severe pain, tingling, and dysesthesia in her right upper extremity in the C5, C6 and C7 nerve root distribution. MR imaging of her cervical spine showed a synovial cyst within the right C6-C7 neural foramen with significant compression and obliteration of the C7 nerve root. The patient underwent CT-guided aspiration of the cyst using a double needle technique, where one needle was used to open up the epidural space while another aspirated the cyst. This was followed by epidural injection of local anesthetic and steroids.
Immediately after injection, the patient experienced complete relief of her right forearm pain, tingling, and dysesthesias. The patient tolerated the procedure well and there were no postprocedure complications. At four year follow-up the patient is free of any symptoms.
Image-guided aspiration of cervical synovial cysts is feasible using CT fluoroscopy. Aspiration of these cysts combined with epidural steroid injection can provide long-lasting symptomatic relief in some patients.
synovial cyst, CT guided treatment, steroid injection
This study is designed based on the retrospective analysis of patients treated in the Neurosurgical Department of two major hospitals and review of the literature. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of surgery and address controversial issues in the treatment of symptomatic lumbar intraspinal synovial cysts. Spinal juxtafacet cysts (synovial and ganglion cysts) are a rare cause of low back and radicular leg pain. Although the relevant reports in the international literature are increasing, the controversy about conservative versus surgical treatment and the need for concomitant fusion still exists. Data from seven patients (age range 58–69 years, mean age 61 years) with low back and radicular leg pain due to a lumbar facet joint cyst were retrospectively analyzed. Demographic data, cyst level, presence of concomitant local pathology, treatment and results of treatment were recorded. A follow-up of at least 6 months (range 6–48 months) was conducted and results were noted. All patients had back pain, while five also experienced unilateral radicular leg pain and one had bilateral leg pain. One patient had neurogenic claudication. MRI identified the cyst and highlighted underlying pathology in all cases. All patients underwent surgical cyst excision. No fusion was performed. Post-operatively, all patients showed a total resolution of symptoms with sustained benefit at final evaluation. Review of the literature revealed a trend towards surgery, as this is correlated to a more favorable outcome compared with conservative treatment. Fusion should be performed on a case-by-case basis only. Surgery is a safe and effective treatment choice in this increasingly appearing ailment. A prospective, randomized trial should clarify issues under debate.
Intraspinal cyst; Synovial cyst; Surgical treatment; Fusion
cysts of the vertebral facet joints are a source of nerve root
compression. Different surgical procedures are in use, but no consensus
has been formed so far as to which method should be used in synovial
cysts. To clarify the role of surgical management, the efficacy of
operative procedures and factors influencing the outcome in our own
series of 19 patients treated between 1994and 1998 were analysed.
patients with a mean age of 65 years underwent surgery for medically
intractable radicular pain or neurological deficits caused by synovial
cysts. The patients' records were retrospectively analysed for
neurological deficits, cysts diameter, operative approach, segmental
hypermobility, and clinical outcome; CT and MRI were analysed for
additional degenerative changes.
RESULTS—In 17 patients
an excellent result and in two patients a good postoperative result was
achieved. Twelve patients were found to have hypermobility of the facet
joints and six had spondylolisthesis. There was no correlation between
cyst diameter, operative approach, and outcome. No intraoperative or
postoperative complications occurred.
hypermobility may play a part in the aetiology of facet joint synovial
cysts. As all operative strategies showed equally good clinical
outcome, total excision via a small flavectomy as the least invasive
approach should be considered therapy of choice in patients with cysts
causing neurological deficits.
Synovial cysts of the lumbar spine are an uncommon cause of back and radicular pain. These cysts most frequently present as back pain, followed by chronic progressive radiculopathy or gradual onset of symptoms secondary to spinal canal compromise. Although less common, they can also present with acute spinal cord or root compression symptoms. We report of a case in which hemorrhaging into a right L2-3 facet synovial cyst caused an acute onset of back pain and radiculopathy, requiring surgical excision.
Lumbar spine; Synovial cyst; Hemorrhage
Three Chinese patients suffered from severe lumbar spinal stenosis with debilitating symptoms due to a rare condition of ligamentum flavum cysts in the midline of the lumbar spine. This disease is distinct from synovial cyst of the facet joints or ganglion cysts, both intraoperatively and histopathologically. Magnetic Resonance imaging features of the ligamentum flavum cyst are also demonstrated. We share our surgical experiences of identification of the ligamentum flavum cysts, decompression and excision for two of the patients with demonstrably good recovery. This disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of an extradural instraspinal mass in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.
To describe two patients with lumbar facet synovial cysts causing sciatica and progressive neurological deficit.
A 52-year-old female with bilateral sciatica and a neurological deficit that progressed to a foot drop; and a 54-year-old female with worsening sciatica and progressive calf weakness were seen at a major tertiary care centre. Diagnostic imaging studies revealed the presence of spinal nerve root impingement by large facet synovial cysts.
Interventions and Outcomes:
Activity modification, gabapentinoid and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications were unsuccessful in ameliorating either patient’s symptoms. One patient had been receiving ongoing lumbar chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy despite the onset of a progressive neurological deficit. Both patients eventually required surgery to remove the cyst and decompress the affected spinal nerve roots.
Patients with acute sciatica who develop a progressive neurological deficit while under care, require prompt referral for axial imaging and surgical consultation. Primary care spine clinicians need to be aware of lumbar facet synovial cysts as a possible cause of acute sciatica and the associated increased risk of the patient developing a progressive neurological deficit.
synovial cyst; facet joint; progressive neurological deficits, radiculopathy; chiropractic; kyste synovial; facette vertébrale; déficits neurologiques progressifs, radiculopathie; chiropratique
Synovial cysts, typically observed in the lumbar spine eventually associated with degenerative changes of the facet joints, only rarely present in the cervical spine. Up to now, only 28 symptomatic cases are described in literature. Typically, the treatment of these cases is a decompressive laminectomy followed by complete surgical removal of the lesion. The authors present the case of an 84-year-old man with a symptomatic synovial cyst involving the space between C7 and T1.
Cervical cyst; Cervical compression; Synovial cyst; Symptomatic cyst
Degenerated conditions such as herniated disc or spinal stenosis are common etiologies of lumbar radiculopathy. Less common etiologies include spinal extradural cyst such as synovial cysts and ganglion cysts. Ganglion cyst of the posterior longitudinal ligament (PLL) of the spine is a rare entity that can result in classical sciatica. Posterior longitudinal ligament cyst has no continuity with the facet joint and has no epithelial lining. Two young male patients presented with unilateral sciatica and were found to have intraspinal cystic lesions causing lumbar radiculopathy. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated rounded, cystic lesions (i.e., hypointense on T1- but hyperintense on T2-weighted images) adjacent to minimally dehydrated, nonherniated disc spaces in both cases. These patients underwent posterior decompression and cysts were excised, and their sciatic symptoms were completely resolved. Histological examination showed typical features of ganglion cysts in these cases.
Ganglion cyst; Intervertebral disc; Posterior longitudinal ligament
Symptomatic intraspinal lumbar facet joint synovial cysts can be managed both conservatively and surgically. Diagnosis of the lumbar facet joint cyst is made through cross-sectional imaging of the spine, either by computerized tomography (CT) scan, myelography, or most commonly magnetic resonance imaging. Conservative treatment by facet joint injection can be performed under fluoroscopic or CT guidance, although only CT guidance provides direct visualization of the cyst confirming accurate needle placement. This case report illustrates the use of percutaneous CT-guided facet joint cyst treatment as a temporizing measure or alternative to surgical treatment in the proper clinical scenario.
CT-guided injections; lumbar facet joint cysts
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Lumbar facet synovial cysts are a cause of back pain and radiculopathy with facet joint degeneration, the most common cause for cyst formation. Typically, LFSCs are T2 hyperintense on MR imaging, but the signal intensity is variable. Treatment options include percutaneous rupture and surgical resection. This study evaluates the relationship between LFSC signal intensity on MR imaging and outcomes as it relates to percutaneous rupture success and need for subsequent surgery.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A retrospective review of 110 patients who underwent CT fluoroscopic-guided rupture of symptomatic LFSCs was performed. The LFSCs were characterized by their T2 signal intensity on MR imaging and divided into 3 groups: high, intermediate, and low T2 signal intensity. The rates of successful cyst rupture and need for subsequent surgery were recorded.
Percutaneous LFSC rupture was technically successful in 87% of all cases. Cyst rupture was successful in 89% and 90% of high and intermediate signal intensity cysts, respectively, and in 65% of low signal intensity cysts (P = .017, .030). High signal intensity cysts had lower postprocedural surgical rates (29%) when compared with intermediate and low signal cyst as a group (P = .045).
T2 hyperintense and intermediate signal intensity LFSCs are easier to rupture, perhaps because the cysts contain a higher proportion of fluid and are less gelatinous or calcified than T2 hypointense cysts. Patients with T2 hyperintense LFSCs are less likely to need surgery.
We describe a case of sacral perineural cyst presenting with complaints of low back pain with neurological claudication. The patient was treated by laminectomy and excision of the cyst. Tarlov cysts (sacral perineural cysts) are nerve root cysts found most commonly in the sacral roots, arising between the covering layer of the perineurium and the endoneurium near the dorsal root ganglion. The incidence of Tarlov cysts is 5% and most of them are asymptomatic, usually detected as incidental findings on MRI. Symptomatic Tarlov cysts are extremely rare, commonly presenting as sacral or lumbar pain syndromes, sciatica or rarely as cauda equina syndrome. Tarlov cysts should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with these complaints.
Low back pain; sacral perineural cyst; sciatica; tarlov cyst
Odontoid fractures are the most common upper cervical spine fracture. There are two mechanisms in which odontoid fractures occur, most commonly hyperflexion of the neck resulting in displacement of the dens anteriorly and hyperextension resulting in posterior dens displacement. Type 2 fractures are the most common and are associated with significant non-union rates after treatment. One possible consequence of an odontoid fracture is a synovial cyst, resulting in spinal cord compression, presenting as myelopathy or radiculopathy. Synovial cysts as a result of spinal fracture, usually of the facet joint, are most common in the lumbar region, followed by the thoracic and then cervical region; cervical cysts are rare. Fracture and subsequent cyst formation is thought to be related to hyper-motion or trauma of the spine. This is reinforced by the appearance of spinal synovial cysts most commonly at the level of L4/5; this being the region with the biggest weight-bearing function. The most common site of cervical cyst formation is at the level of C7/T1; this is a transitional joint subjected to unique stress and mechanical forces not present at higher levels. Treatment of a cervical synovial cyst at the level of the odontoid is challenging with little information available in the literature. The majority of cases appear to implement posterior surgical resection of the cyst, with fusion of adjacent cervical vertebrae to stabilise the fracture, resulting in restricted range of movement.
We describe a case concerning a 39-year-old female who presented with uncertain cause of odontoid fracture, resulting in a cystic lesion compressing the upper cervical spinal cord.
Minimal invasive surgery of C1/C2 transarticular fusion was successfully performed resulting in significant improvement of neurological symptoms in this patient. At 1-year follow-up, the cyst had resolved without surgical removal and this was confirmed by radiological measures.
Transarticular fusion; Odontoid fracture; Cervical cyst; Cystic lesion
Lumbar spinal stenosis, the results of congenital and degenerative constriction of the neural canal and foramina leading to lumbosacral nerve root or cauda equina compression, is a common cause of disability in middle-aged and elderly patients. Advanced neuroradiologic imaging techniques have improved our ability to localize the site of nerve root entrapment in patients presenting with neurogenic claudication or painful radiculopathy. Although conservative medical management may be successful initially, surgical decompression by wide laminectomy or an intralaminar approach should be done in patients with serious or progressive pain or neurologic dysfunction. Because the early diagnosis and treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis may prevent intractable pain and the permanent neurologic sequelae of chronic nerve root entrapment, all physicians should be aware of the different neurologic presentations and the treatment options for patients with spinal stenosis.
Although synovial cysts are most commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, they may occur in many other conditions. The clinical manifestations of these cysts are numerous and may result from pressure, dissection or acute rupture. Vascular phenomena occur when popliteal cysts compress vessels, and result in venous stasis with subsequent lower extremity edema or thrombophlebitis. Rarely, popliteal cysts may cause arterial compromise with intermittent claudication. Neurological sequelae include pain, paresthesia, sensory loss, and muscle weakness or atrophy. When synovial cysts occur as mass lesions they may mimic popliteal aneurysms or hematomas, adenopathy, tumors or even inguinal hernias. Cutaneous joint fistulas, septic arthritis or osteomyelitis, and spinal cord and bladder compression are examples of other infrequent complications. Awareness of the heterogeneous manifestations of synovial cysts may enable clinicians to avoid unnecessary diagnostic studies and delay in appropriate management. Arthrography remains the definitive diagnostic procedure of choice, although ultrasound testing may be useful.
Spinal dural meningoceles and diverticula are meningeal cysts that have a myriad of clinical presentations and sequelae, secondary to local mass effect. Our objective is to report a technical case report, illustrating a traumatic spinal injury with multiple pedicle fractures, secondary to atrophic lumbar pedicles as well as the diagnostic workup and surgical management of this problem. Posterior lumbar decompression, resection of the meningeal cyst, ligation of the cyst ostium, instrumentation, and fusion were performed with the assistance of intraoperative isocentric fluoroscopy. The cyst's point of communication was successfully located with intraoperative fluoroscopy and the lesion was successfully excised. We suggest that patients with traumatic spinal injuries, having evidence of pre-existing anomalous bony architecture, undergo advanced imaging studies, to rule out intraspinal pathology. The positive clinical and radiographic results support the removal and closure of the pre-existing meningeal cyst at the time of treatment of traumatic spinal injury. Intraoperative isocentric fluoroscopy is a helpful tool in the operative management of these lesions.
Arachnoid cyst; Cerebrospinal fluid diverticula; extradural meningeal cyst; spinal meningeal cyst; thin pedicles
Lumbar synovial cysts frequently present with back pain, chronic radiculopathy and/or progressive symptoms of spinal canal compromise. These cysts generally appear in the context of degenerative lumbar spinal disease. Few cases of spontaneous hemorrhage into synovial cysts have been reported in the literature.
Juxtafacet cyst; Synovial cyst; Lumbar spine; Hemorrhage
This article reviews what is known about ganglion cyst formation, natural history (50% of cysts will spontaneously resolve), diagnosis, and management of this common malady. Although the exact mechanism of cyst formation is unknown, most current theories hold that extra-articular mucin “droplets” coalesce to form the main body of the tumor. Only subsequently are the “cyst wall” and pedicle (connecting the cyst to a nearby synovial joint) formed. Treatment options include watchful waiting, nonoperative aspiration/injection, and surgical removal. Although treatment is often unnecessary, many patients seeking consultation desire some form of definitive treatment. Cyst aspiration/injection is fraught with a high incidence of recurrence. Surgery generally results in lower rates of recurrence, but a higher incidence of complications. All current treatment options are suboptimal.
Cyst; Ganglion; Wrist ganglion; Ganglion cyst
The purpose of this study is to report the findings resulting from chiropractic care using flexion distraction spinal manipulation for a patient with low back and radicular pain due to spinal stenosis caused by a synovial cyst.
A 75-year-old man presented with low back pain radiating to the right anterior thigh and down the left posterior leg of 3 years' duration. Physical and imaging examinations showed a synovial cyst–induced spinal stenosis at the right L3-L4 level and bilateral L4-L5 spinal stenosis.
Intervention and Outcomes
Flexion distraction spinal manipulation and physiological therapeutics were applied at the levels of stenosis. After 4 visits, the patient noted total absence of the right and left lower extremity pain and no adverse reaction to treatment. After 3 months of treatment and 16 visits, his low back and buttock pain were minimal; and he had no leg pain.
Lumbar synovial cyst and stenosis–generated low back and radicular pain was 80% relieved in a 75-year-old man following Cox flexion distraction spinal manipulation.
Low back pain; Nerve root compression; Sciatica; Synovial cysts; Spinal stenosis; Manipulation; Chiropractic
To assess the efficacy of facet joint infiltrations for pain relief in 44 selected patients with chronic nonradicular low back pain (LBP).
Materials and Methods:
Forty-four patients with chronic LBP of more than 3 months' duration were selected for facet joint infiltration. The majority (n = 24) had facetal pain with no evidence of significant facetal arthropathy on imaging. Fifteen patients had radiological evidence of facetal arthropathy, one had a facet joint synovial cyst, three were post–lumbar surgery patients, and two patients had spondylolysis. Facet joint injections were carried out under fluoroscopic guidance in 39 patients and under CT guidance in 5 cases. Pain relief was assessed using the visual analog scale at 1 h post-procedure and, thereafter, at 1, 4, 12, and 24 weeks.
A total of 141 facet joints were infiltrated in 44 patients over a 2-year period. There was significant pain relief in 81.8% patients 1 h after the procedure, in 86.3% after 1 week, in 93.3% after 4 weeks, in 85.7% after 12 weeks, and in 62.5% after 24 weeks. No major complications were encountered.
Facet nerve block was found to be a simple, minimally invasive, and safe procedure. With meticulous patient selection, we achieved long-term success rates of over 60%. We conclude that this method represents an important alternative treatment for nonradicular back pain.
Facetal arthropathy; facetal infiltrations; low back pain
Facet cysts are implicated in neural compression in the lumbar spine. Surgery is the definitive treatment for symptomatic facet cysts since the failure rate for conservative treatment is quite high; however, the role of physical/manual medicine practitioners in the management of symptomatic facet cysts has not been well explored. This case report will add to the body of evidence of spontaneous resolution of symptoms associated with facet cysts in the chiropractic literature.
A 58 year old female presented with acute low back and right leg pain which she attributed to a series of exercise classes that involved frequent foot stomping. Physical examination did not elicit any objective evidence of radiculopathy but MRI and CT scans revealed a facet cyst impinging on the right L5 nerve root. Injections and surgery were recommended; however, the patient’s radicular symptoms completely resolved after three months without surgical intervention.
There is currently a paucity of data in the literature regarding the chiropractor’s role in the management of symptomatic facet cysts. The case presented here has added to this literature and possible areas for future research have been explored.
facet; cyst; lumbar spine; facette; kyste; rachis lombaire
A 68-year-old female had a three-week history of severe low back pain radiating down the posterior left buttocks and left leg exacerbated by standing and walking. Lumbar spine MRI revealed cystic mass with similar intensity to cerebrospinal fluid located on dorsolateral left side of the sacral spinal canal inferior to the S1 pedicle. There was compression of left exiting S1 and traversing S2 nerve roots. Neurosurgery consult was requested to evaluate the cystic mass in the sacral spinal canal. After clinical evaluation, an unusually located synovial cyst was thought possible. Cyst contents were heterogeneous, suggestive of small hemorrhage and acute clinical history seemed reasonable. Left S1 and partial left S2 hemilaminectomy was performed and an epidural, partially hemorrhagic cyst was removed. There was no obvious connection to the ipsilateral L5-S1 facet joint. Pathology revealed synovial cyst, and the patient's leg pain was improved postoperatively. This synovial cyst was unusual as it had no connection with the facet joint intraoperatively and its location in the sacral canal was uncommon.
The pathogenesis of juxtafacet cysts is closely related to degenerative instability of the lumbar spine and degenerative changes in the ligamentum flavum and the facet joint. A 56-year-old man presented with severe right thigh pain and numbness for 1 month after a laminar fracture of the L4 spine. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a heterogenous cystic mass surrounding the facet joint between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae on the right side. Conservative therapy was unsuccessful and the lesion was removed by surgical decompression alone without fusion. The histological examination showed a fragmented, cystic wall-like structure composed of myxoid degenerative tissue without lining epithelium. Here we present this case of a ganglion cyst that appeared to be associated with facet joint instability.
Ganglion cysts; Synovial cyst; Spine