Systematic Review of Surgical Management of Spinal Intradural Arachnoid Cysts

World Neurosurg. 2022 Feb:158:e298-e309. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2021.10.173. Epub 2021 Oct 30.


Objective: Spinal intradural arachnoid cysts (SIACs) are rare pathological lesions that can arise via outpouchings of the arachnoid layer in the spinal canal that can result in neurological deficits. We performed a systematic literature review regarding the current surgical techniques used in the management of SIACs and discussed the prevailing hypotheses surrounding the etiology of SIACs.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was performed in December 2020 using EMBASE and MEDLINE for reports regarding the surgical management of SIACs. Data were collected regarding the demographics of the patients, classification system used, presence or absence of syrinxes, preoperative imaging modality, surgical approach and extent of resection, and postoperative outcomes and follow-up.

Results: Our search yielded 19 reports for inclusion in the present study. The 19 studies included a total of 414 cases, with an overall male/female ratio of 0.93:1. The most common site for the SIACs was the thoracic spinal cord at 77.5%. The symptoms were very similar across the 19 studies. Of the 19 studies, 15 had used resection to manage the SIACs, 10 had used fenestration or marsupialization, and 4 had used cystoarachnoid or cystoperitoneal shunts.

Conclusions: SIACs are rare and debilitating spinal pathological lesions, with the etiology of primary SIACs still not fully elucidated. Multiple surgical approaches have been effective, with the optimal operative strategy largely dependent on the individual patient and cyst factors on a case-by-case basis.

Keywords: Cyst; Intradural arachnoid; Spinal; Surgery; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arachnoid Cysts* / diagnostic imaging
  • Arachnoid Cysts* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / surgery
  • Spine / pathology
  • Syringomyelia*

Supplementary concepts

  • Spinal intradural arachnoid cysts