Tarlov cysts are abnormal sacs of spinal fluid that usually form around spinal root nerve fibers at the lower end of the spine, which is called the sacrum.
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The cause of a Tarlov cyst is unknown, but may be due to abnormal development of the nerve sheath.
Although gender may not be a risk factor, Tarlov cysts have more often been found in women than men.
Most of the time, Tarlov cysts do not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are associated with nerve root compression and may include:
If you have a Tarlov cyst, the following may cause it to become painful or cause other symptoms:
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. Your doctor will also look for other conditions that could be causing symptoms.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
If you are experiencing symptoms, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:
To relieve inflammation and/or pain:
Other treatments may include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent a Tarlov cyst.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation
Lucantoni C, Than K, Wang AC, et.al. Tarlov cysts: a controversial lesion of the sacral spine. Neurosurg Focus. 2011;31(6):E14.
Tarlov cyst information. Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation website. Available at: https://www.tarlovcystfoundation.org/info. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Tarlov cysts. NORD—National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/tarlov-cysts. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Tarlov cysts. GARD—Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center website. Available at: https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/9258/tarlov-cysts/cases/27316. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 12/19/2017