Vol 46, No 5 (2012)

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Synovial cysts of the lumbar spine

Roman Jankowski1, Janusz Szymaś2, Stanisław Nowak1, Ryszard Żukiel1, Bartosz Sokół1, Włodzimierz Paprzycki3
DOI: 10.5114/ninp.2012.31356
Neurol Neurochir Pol 2012;46(5):456-461.


Background and purpose

Synovial cysts of the spine occur most frequently in the lumbosacral region. Methods of treatment vary, but in cases of chronic pain or neurological deficits surgical intervention is undertaken. The aim of this paper is to present indications, surgical technique and efficacy of surgical treatment in patients with synovial cyst of the spinal canal.

Material and methods

The retrospective analysis included 11 patients, aged from 47 to 72 years, treated at the Department of Neurosurgery and Neurotraumatology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, between 2004 and 2009. The length of medical history ranged from 2 months to 6 years. Conservative treatment applied before surgery was not effective. Neurological examination revealed unilateral or bilateral sciatica, superficial sensory disturbance or lower limb paresis.


Synovial cysts were located mainly at the L4-L5 level (9 cases). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine was performed in all patients and showed the cystic lesion attached to the intervertebral joint. Surgical treatment consisted of a unilateral fenestration using microsurgical techniques in most cases. Back pain relief was observed in 9 cases. In 10 patients, symptoms of sciatica disappeared. Neurological deficits disappeared in 5 patients.


Surgical treatment of spinal synovial cysts is safe, effective and ensures a long-lasting effect. Surgical treatment is indicated in patients in whom the clinical symptoms correlate with the presence of synovial cyst in imaging studies and do not resolve after conservative treatment.

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Neurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska