Background: Symptomatic Tarlov cysts are a common cause of chronic pain. Many methods have been reported to treat this disease, with variable results. Most previous reports concerning the treatment methods of symptomatic Tarlov cysts were either sporadic case reports or series of limited cases.
Objective: This study aimed to further optimize the management for patients with symptomatic Tarlov cysts (TCs) by analyzing the results of 82 patients who were treated with different strategies.
Study design: Three different strategies were applied to 82 patients with symptomatic TCs and their clinical effects were evaluated in 13 months to 12 years follow-up.
Setting: A pain management practice, a medical center, major metropolitan city, China.
Methods: From June 2003 to August 2015, a total number of 82 patients with symptomatic TCs were treated with 3 different methods (microsurgical cyst fenestration and imbrication, C-arm fluoroscopy guided percutaneous fibrin gel injection, and conservative management) in the first affiliated hospital of Chongqing Medical University. The pain severity was assessed according to visual analog scale (VAS), and imaging changes were evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Patient improvements in pain and neurologic function were evaluated during a follow-up the period of 13 months to 12 years.
Results: All the patients who underwent microsurgical cyst fenestration and imbrication had either complete (7 patients, 50%) or substantial (7 patients, 50%) resolution of their preoperative symptoms and neurological deficits. However, 3 patients (21%) had cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage and 3 patients (21%) suffered from recurrent symptoms. In C-arm fluoroscopy guided percutaneous fibrin gel injection group, 34 patients (61%) had complete resolution and 22 patients had (39%) substantial resolution, and no CSF leakage or recurrence occurred. Only 3 patients (25%) got substantial resolution in the conservative management group, but 9 patients (75%) had aggravation.
Limitations: An observational study with a relatively small sample size.
Conclusions: C-arm fluoroscopy guided percutaneous fibrin gel injection therapy could be recommend as a better consideration for symptomatic TCs.
Key words: Tarlov cysts, C-arm fluoroscopy guided, fibrin gel, microsurgical cyst fenestration, conservative management.