Ralf Weigel, Manolis Polemikos, Nesrin Uksul, Joachim K. Krauss

October 2016, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 3403 - 3410 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-016-4744-5

First Online: 23 August 2016


Surgical treatment of Tarlov cysts is still a matter of debate. Published literature thus far includes mainly small case series with retrospective evaluation and short-term follow-up. We present a novel microsurgical technique that combines the decompression of the nerve fibers with the prevention of recurrence. The long-term follow-up is provided.


The indication for surgery was incapacitating pain refractory to medical therapy for at least 6 months. The surgical technique consisted in microsurgical opening of the cyst, relief of CSF followed by secured inverted plication of the cyst wall, packing of remnant space with fat graft, and sacroplasty. Pain and neurological deficits were evaluated according to a modified Barrow National Institute score (BNI score, 0–5) and the Departmental Neuro Score (DNS score, 0–20).


A total of 13 patients (9 women, 4 men) were operated and followed up to 14 years (mean FU 5.3 years). Mean age at surgery was 51.8 (±14) years. Pain and neurological deficits improved significantly in 11/13 patients (BNI score pre-OP 5 vs 3.1 ± 1.2 at 1-year-FU, and 2.8 ± 1.2 at last follow-up visit; DNS score pre-OP 5.5 ± 1.5 vs 2.8 ± 2.1 at 1-year follow-up, and 2.6 ± 2.2 at last follow-up visit. Two patients needed revision surgery due to reoccurrence of the cyst. One patient suffered deterioration of preexisting neurological deficit.


The inverted plication technique combined with sacroplasty is a promising technique. It improves pain and neurological deficits on the long term in the majority of patients with symptomatic Tarlov cysts.

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