Synovial cysts of the lumbar spine: Diagnosis, surgical management, and pathogenesis. Report of eight cases

William L. Yarde, Paul M. Arnold, John J. Kepes, Paul L. O'Boynick, Steven B. Wilkinson, Solomon Batnitzky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. Synovial cysts are uncommon extradural degenerative lesions associated with symptoms of lower back pain and radiculopathy. Most of these lesions occur in the lumbar spine at the L4-5 level and to a lesser extent at the L5-S1 and L3-4 levels. METHODS. A retrospective study involving eight patients seen by the neurosurgery service from January 1, 1989, to May 30, 1994, was analyzed. The type, duration, and distribution of symptoms were evaluated, along with the patient's age and sex. All patients had lumbosacral spine x rays and magnetic resonance imaging. Four had a computed tomography-myelogram of the lumbar spine. All patients underwent a laminectomy or hemilaminectomy and cyst excision, and all were followed for a minimum of 1 year. The presence of a synovial cyst was confirmed by histopathology. RESULTS. Of the eight patients, seven had dramatic pain relief with five having complete resolution of pain. The single care of persistent pain was found to be due to scar tissue at the operative site. All five cases of preoperative lower extremity weakness showed complete resolution. Dysesthesia was either unchanged or decreased. CONCLUSIONS. Surgery is a safe, effective treatment for patients with lumbar synovial cysts and is the treatment of choice for these lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-465
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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