CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Tarlov Cyst

(Perineural Cyst; Sacral Nerve Root Cyst)

Definition

Tarlov cysts are abnormal sacs of spinal fluid that usually form at the lower end of the spine, which is called the sacrum. Tarlov cysts contain spinal nerve fibers within the cyst wall.

Sacrum

si55550398_105433_1_sacrum
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

The cause of a Tarlov cyst is unknown but may be related to:

  • Trauma to the spine
  • Increase in cerebrospinal fluid pressure
  • Blockage of cerebrospinal fluid

Risk Factors    TOP

Although gender may not be a risk factor, Tarlov cysts have more often been found in women than men.

Tarlov cysts may be linked to connective tissue disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Marfan syndrome.

Symptoms    TOP

Most of the time, Tarlov cysts do not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nerve pain
  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet, vagina, rectum, or abdomen
  • Pain when coughing or sneezing
  • Weakness, cramping, or numbness in the buttocks, legs, and feet
  • Swelling, soreness, or tenderness around the lower end of the spine
  • Abnormal sensations in the legs and feet, or less commonly in the arms and hands
  • Pain when sitting or standing
  • Headaches
  • Pulling and burning feeling in the tailbone
  • Loss of sensation on the skin
  • Loss of reflexes

If you have a Tarlov cyst, the following may cause it to become painful or cause other symptoms:

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to see a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon.

Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

Treatment    TOP

If you are experiencing symptoms, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:

Medications

To relieve inflammation and/or pain:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Topical pain relievers that are applied to the skin
  • Corticosteroid or other medicated injections

Other Treatments

Other treatments may include:

  • Aspiration of the cyst plus fibrin glue injection—a needle is used to drain the cyst and then a special glue is injected into the cyst to try to prevent it from filling again
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)—electrical impulses delivered through the skin
  • Surgery may be done for severe or worsening symptoms, bowel or bladder dysfunction, or if there is damage to the affected area

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent a Tarlov cyst.

RESOURCES:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation
http://www.tarlovcystfoundation.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

References:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Tarlov cyst information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Therapeutic percutaneous image-guided aspiration of spinal cysts. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated 2007. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000