Minimally Invasive Versus Open Surgery for Lumbar Synovial Cysts

World Neurosurg. 2017 Dec;108:555-559. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.09.039. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


Objective: Lumbar synovial cysts are relatively infrequent. Historically, these benign lesions have been treated with open excision, sometimes associated with fusion. The aim of this study is to compare minimally invasive surgery (MIS) with open surgery (OS) for the treatment of lumbar synovial cysts.

Methods: This was a retrospective review of patients who underwent minimally invasive or open excision of lumbar synovial cysts. Clinical outcomes, recurrence rate, and surgical complications were compared in the 2 groups.

Results: A total of 37 cases were identified, of which 24 were MIS and 13 were OS. MIS was significantly more effective in improving leg pain and radicular symptoms. There was no statistical difference between the 2 groups with regard to improvements of back pain and neurogenic claudication. Postoperative length of hospital stay and postoperative pain were significantly reduced in the MIS group (15 hours vs. 24 hours and 0.9/10 vs. 4.7/10 respectively, P < 0.5). There were no statistical differences in duration of surgery, intra- or postoperative complications, no recurrence of cyst in either of the 2 groups, and no patients required fusion at a later stage.

Conclusions: In this study, MIS for the treatment of lumbar synovial cysts appears to be more effective than OS in relieving radicular symptoms. Furthermore, MIS is better tolerated by patients and is potentially cost saving for the Health Service, due to the reduction in hospital stay and the reduced requirement for painkillers.

Keywords: Lumbar spine; Minimally invasive surgery; Synovial cyst.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Back Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Back Pain / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery*
  • Synovial Cyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Synovial Cyst / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome