Cervical intradural disc herniation: A systematic review

J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Feb:48:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2017.10.024. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


Background: Cervical intradural disc herniation (CIDH) is rare, and diagnosis and treatment are challenging. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature on the diagnosis and treatment of CIDH.

Method: The presentation, imaging manifestations, diagnosis, management, prognosis and possible pathogenesis were reviewed following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. English-language studies and case reports published from inception to 2017 were retrieved. Data on presentation, imaging characteristics, diagnosis, management, outcomes and pathogenesis were extracted.

Results: Twenty articles involving 23 patients were selected. The most common involved level was C5-6 (43.5%), followed by C6-7 (30.4%), C4-5 (13%), and C3-4 (13%). Spontaneous IDH occurred in 61% of the patients, and relevant cervical trauma was present in 39%. Brown-Sequard's syndrome (56.5%), quadriparesis (34.8%), and radiculopathy (8.7%) were the main presentations. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was the most commonly used diagnostic technique, and the "halo" and "Y-sign" were strong indicators of CIDH. Three (13%) patients were diagnosed as having CIDH preoperatively, and 87% were confirmed intraoperatively. All patients underwent surgical intervention primarily (73.9%) through an anterior approach. Neurological function improved postoperatively in all patients but one. Dural and arachnoid mater tears were managed by direct suture or covering with a substitute, and only one patient sustained cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage after surgery.

Conclusion: IDH mostly involves the lower cervical spine. More than half of the patients had spontaneous CIDH, and some had a relevant cervical trauma history. BSS was the main presentation. It is difficult to diagnose CIDH depending on clinical presentations and radiographic findings. Surgery was an effective treatment for CIDH and can provide a definitive diagnosis. With meticulous management of dural and arachnoid tears, the postoperative incidence of CSF leakage was found to be low.

Keywords: Cerebrospinal fluid leakage; Cervical spine; Disc herniation; Intradural disc.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak / etiology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Supplementary concepts

  • Intervertebral disc disease