Clinical and Radiologic Outcomes After Fenestration and Partial Wall Excision of Idiopathic Intradural Spinal Arachnoid Cysts Presenting with Myelopathy

World Neurosurg. 2017 Sep:105:213-222. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.05.136. Epub 2017 May 31.


Background: Intradural spinal arachnoid cysts (ISACs) with associated neurologic deficits are encountered infrequently. Various management strategies have been proposed with minimal data on comparative outcomes.

Objective: We describe the clinical and radiologic presentation as well as the outcomes of 14 surgically managed patients who presented with an ISAC and associated myelopathy.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the clinical course of consecutive patients presenting with neurologic deficits associated with idiopathic ISACs at our institution. The diagnoses were based on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging studies followed by intraoperative and histopathological confirmation.

Results: A total of 14 consecutive patients with ISACs (1 cervicothoracic, 12 thoracic, and 1 thoracolumbar) and associated myelopathy were identified. Syringomyelia was noted in 8 patients. All ISACs were treated with cyst fenestration and partial wall resection through a posterior approach. Preoperative neurologic symptoms were noted to be stable or improved in all patients starting at 6-week postoperative follow-up. The median (interquartile range) preoperative mJOA score was 13 (12.0-14.8), whereas the postoperative median score at a mean follow-up of 22 months (range 6-50 months) was 16 (14.0-17.0), which represents a median improvement (ΔmJOA) of 2.0 (1.3-3.0) (P < 0.001). Comparison of ΔmJOA scores between cases without and with associated syrinxes did not reveal a significant difference (P = 0.23). Postoperative magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed spinal cord re-expansion at the level of the ISAC in all cases and either complete or partial syrinx resolution in 7 of 8 cases.

Conclusions: Early treatment with fenestration and partial wall resection allows for cord decompression, syrinx resolution, and gradual resolution of myelopathic symptoms in most cases.

Keywords: Compressive myelopathy; Fenestration; Intradural spinal arachnoid cyst; Syringomyelia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arachnoid Cysts* / complications
  • Arachnoid Cysts* / diagnostic imaging
  • Arachnoid Cysts* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / complications
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / surgery
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome

Supplementary concepts

  • Spinal intradural arachnoid cysts