Original Study

Management of symptomatic sacral perineural cysts with microsurgery and a vascularized fasciocutaneous flap

Parmenion P. Tsitsopoulos, Niklas Marklund, Konstantin Salci, Anders Holtz, Maria Mani


Background: The optimal treatment of symptomatic perineural (Tarlov) cysts is controversial. Numerous surgical techniques have been proposed with conflicting results. A series of Tarlov cysts treated with a novel surgical approach is presented.
Methods: Patients with surgically treated symptomatic perineural cysts during 2013–2016 were included. The main indications for surgery were persistent radicular symptoms, pelvic pain, urinary and/ or bowel disturbances. At surgery, the cyst was opened and fenestrated. The cyst wall was then closed with packing, fibrin glue and a pedicled vascularized fasciocutaneous flap rotated into the area for obliteration of the dead space. Patients were followed-up with clinical visits and repeat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Results: Seven consecutive patients were included. The mean age was 50.3 years (range, 25–80 years) and the mean duration of symptoms was 49.3 months (range, 3–130 months). With one exception, all patients had urine and/or bowel problems (incontinence) preoperatively. A lumbar drain was inserted in five patients. The mean follow-up period was 15.4 months. Symptoms improved in 4/7 patients, in two cases no clinical difference was noted while one patient deteriorated. In two cases, a spinal cord stimulator was eventually implanted. In all seven cases, a significantly decreased cyst size was noted on MRI.
Conclusions: Cyst fenestration and the use of a vascularized fasciocutaneous flap successfully obliterated all cysts, with satisfactory clinical efficacy. Larger and comparative studies are warranted to clarify the long-term effects of this surgical technique in patients with symptomatic Tarlov cysts.

Download Citation