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Tarlov Cyst

What is Tarlov Cyst?

Perineural (or Tarlov) cysts are cerebrospinal fluid-filled nerve root cysts most commonly found at the sacral level of the spine, although they can be found in any section of the spine, which can cause progressively painful radiculopathy.


Perineural (or Tarlov) cysts are cerebrospinal fluid-filled nerve root cysts most commonly found at the sacral level of the spine, although they can be found in any section of the spine, which can cause progressively painful radiculopathy.
Synonyms for Tarlov Cyst has not been added yet.
Although the cause(s) of Tarlov cysts formation is yet scientifically unproven,there are a number of conditions that can create increased spinal fluid pressure, increasing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid into the cysts and causing them to expand in size and create symptoms. The cysts are then termed symptomatic Tarlov Cysts. Some incidents or conditions that might potentially cause the asymptomatic cysts to become symptomatic are; * Trauma to the spinal cord such as falls, automobile accidents and heavy lifting. * Childbirth, and epidurals. * An increase in the CSF pressure. * A blockage of the CSF can result in cyst formation. * It is also noted that the herpes simplex virus can cause the Tarlov cyst symptoms to worsen during a herpes virus outbreak.
Symptoms of expanding/enlarging cysts occur due to compression of nerve roots that exit from the sacral area. Symptoms may include the following, dependent on the location of the cysts and the section of the spine they occur: Pain in lower back (particularly below the waist) and in buttocks, legs, and feet Pain in the chest, upper back, neck, arms and hands Weakness and/or cramping in legs and feet / arms and hands Parasthesias (abnormal sensations) in legs and feet or arms and hands, dependent on cyst locations Pain sitting or standing for even short periods of time Pain when sneezing or coughing Inability to empty the bladder or in extreme cases to urinate at all Bowel or bladder changes, including incontinence Swelling over the sacral (or cervical, thoracic, or lumbar) area of the spine Soreness, a feeling of pressure and tenderness over the sacrum and coccyx (tailbone), extending across the hip and into the thigh with cysts in the sacrum. Same feelings in upper sections of the spine dependent on cyst locations Headaches (due to the changes in the CSF pressure) and sometimes accompanied by blurred vision, pressure behind the eyes and optic nerve pressure causing papilledema (optic nerve swelling) Dizziness and feeling of loss of balance or equilibrium The feeling of sitting on a rock Pulling and burning sensation in coccyx (tailbone) area, especially when bending Sciatica Vaginal, rectal, pelvic and/or abdominal pain The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and it originates at the S2, S3 level of the spinal column. It crosses the buttocks and extends down the leg into the foot. Sciatica is a syndrome that results in burning, tingling, numbness, stinging, electrical shock sensations in the lower back, buttocks, thigh, and pain down the leg and foot. Severe sciatica may also result in weakness of the leg and foot. Some TCs don't cause symptoms and are not diagnosed. However, when symptoms develop that are suggestive of TCs, MRI will demonstrate their presence, and Myelogram or CT may demonstrate the CSF flow between the spinal subarachnoid area and the cyst, determining how rapidly the cyst is filling and whether or not the fluid is freely flowing in and/or out of the cyst.
Name Description
Tarlov Cyst Perineural (or Tarlov) cysts are cerebrospinal fluid-filled nerve root cysts most commonly found at the sacral level of the spine, although they can be found in any section of the spine, which can cause progressively painful radiculopathy. The annual incidence of perineural cysts is estimated at approximately 5%, although large cysts that cause symptoms are relatively rare with annual incidence estimated at less than 1/2,000. Women are affected more frequently than men. Patients with perineural cysts present with pain in the area of the nerves affected by the cyst, muscle weakness, difficulty sitting for prolonged periods, loss of sensation, loss of reflexes, pain when sneezing or coughing, swelling over the sacral area, parasthesias, headaches, sciatica, and bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. The cysts typically occur along the posterior nerve roots and can be valved or nonvalved. The main feature that distinguishes perineural cysts from other spinal lesions is the presence of spinal nerve root fibres within the cyst wall or in the cyst cavity. The majority of perineural cysts are sporadic. However, in some cases cysts have been observed among relatives, suggesting the possibility of a familiar trait with autosomal transmission. There are a number of conditions that can cause the cysts to become symptomatic, including traumatic injury, heavy lifting, childbirth, epidurals, and trauma to the spinal cord. It has also been observed that the herpes simplex virus can cause the body chemistry to change and that perineural cyst symptoms worsen during herpes virus outbreaks. Diagnosis is based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed topography (CT) or myelogram of patients experiencing lower back pain or sciatica. The main differential diagnoses are meningeal diverticula and long arachnoid prolongations, which can be distinguished by rapid filling on myelography compared to the delayed filling of perineural cysts. Differential diagnoses also include herniated lumbar discs, arachnoiditis and, in females, gynecological conditions. Treatment involves lumbar drainage of the cerebrospinal fluid, CT scanning-guided cyst aspiration, decompressive laminectomy, cyst and/or nerve root excision and microsurgical cyst fenestration and imbrications. However, surgical treatment for perineural cysts is complicated by postoperative pseudomeningocoele and intracranial hypotension, and recurrence of the cyst. Pain therapy may offer a nonsurgical alternative for the treatment of symptomatic perineural cysts. Those who have progressive and prolonged symptoms may experience neurological damage if the cysts continue to compress nerve structures. (Copied from
Most Tarlov cysts are discovered on MRI, CT or Myelogram. It is sometimes confusing to make an accurate diagnosis as to the cause of the symptoms, if there are multiple diagnoses found, such as herniated discs, ruptured disc, DDD (degenerative disc disease). It is sometimes diagnostically conclusive that the cysts are the cause of symptoms, when pain is improved by aspirating the fluid from the cysts. Although using a needle to aspirate CSF from the cysts can temporarily relieve symptoms, eventually the cysts will refill and the symptoms will recur usually within hours.
Diagnostic tests of Tarlov Cyst has not been added yet
Some patients report that changes in their diet and/or the addition of nutritional supplements to alter acid-base balance (alkalinity/acidity) in the body may have helped with symptoms; however, there have been no scientific studies in Tarlov cyst patients to prove any benefit with dietary changes or dietary supplements. Pain medications plus medications used to treat chronic nerve related pain (such as antiseizure medications and antidepressants) may be helpful in some patients. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are an important adjunct to the treatment to help with nerve inflammation and irritation. Lidoderm patches used for post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) may be applied locally over the sacral area to provide some temporary relief of discomfort sitting and assistance with pain management. In Europe, this same product is marketed under the name Neurodol. When pain is intractable, despite a variety of interventions, or when other neurological symptoms become severe (ie bowel and bladder dysfunction, severe paraesthesias,etc.), and the sacrum is eroding and remodeling, surgery may be the treatment of choice. There are a small number of physician's in the world who have surgical expertise in the treatment for TCs, and the short-term and long-term outcome of surgery is improving but variable in individual patients at this time. The usual surgical procedure consists of fenestration and imbrication of the cysts and then packing all the dead space around the cysts with fat, glue, and/or muscle. The body does not like dead spaces, and new cysts will possibly develop in the dead spaces around the old cysts, if not filled. Due to the potential risks for further nerve damage or spinal fluid leaks, there might be increased symptoms postoperatively, including more bowel and bladder problems, when the cysts are located in the S2-S3 nerve location. However, the neurosurgeons are perfecting surgical techniques and including intra-operative nerve monitoring to decrease the risks of further nerve damage. Due to the long term nerve compression causing irritation and inflammation to the nerves, it may take months to a year to determine the full benefit of the surgery. Steroid injections may provide some short term pain relief. Pain may be also temporarily controlled by aspiration of the cysts and then injecting the cysts with fibrin glue (a substance produced from blood chemicals involved in the clotting mechanism). The aspiration of CSF and injection of fibrin glue procedure theoretically is designed to remove the CSF from the cyst, and to block the entrance or the neck of the cyst with the sealant glue, to prevent return of the flow of CSF into the cyst. Some patients have found immediate relief after the procedure, while others have reported a delayed benefit from the procedure when the nerve irritation has subsided. After the procedure, there are outcomes of both short term relief, as well as longer term relief reported. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has been proven useful for some in pain management. TENS devices deliver electrical impulses through the skin to the cutaneous (surface) and afferent(deep) nerves to control pain. Unlike medications and topical ointments, TENS does not have any known side effects, other than skin
Those who have progressive and prolonged symptoms run a risk of neurological damage, if the cysts continue to compress nerve structures. If the nerve damage is progressive and affects bladder and bowel function and other body systems, it is important to have a good primary physician to coordinate referrals to specialists. Many patients become disabled and unable to continue to work, due to the pain and multi-systems affected issues. Individuals who undergo neurosurgery or those who have the cysts aspirated and injected with fibrin glue have varied results from no improvement to moderate improvement, but in some cases have worsened symptoms and more nerve damage from the procedures. There are also some patients who are much improved, evidenced by an increase in activities without the severity of symptoms recurring, and the need for less medications.There is no scientific analysis to date of all the compiled reports from the various procedures. The Foundation is working with the physicians and the researcher to provide collaboration, communication and an improved database of results of treatments. Collaboration of those very few members of the medical community who are willing to treat Tarlov cysts, as well as improved continuing medical education (CME) is essential to improve the short and long term prognosis of those diagnosed with Tarlov cysts.
Tips or Suggestions of Tarlov Cyst has not been added yet.
References of Tarlov Cyst has not been added yet.
test Created by robert_RG
Last updated 27 Feb 2017, 12:33 AM

Tarlov Cyst Created by fiveand10jo
Last updated 13 Feb 2017, 05:58 PM

Posted by mjpercer67
13 Feb 2017, 05:58 PM

Yes, unfortunately I've been to many many doctors of several different specialties. PLEASE don't let them do any injections into your spine. Also please research Adhesive Arachnoiditis because many if not all patients that have TC have Arachnoiditis. The cysts by nature press the nerves to the edge causing clumping.

Posted by fiveand10jo
13 Feb 2017, 01:40 AM

*I was referred to an ortho spine physician vs neuro surgeon. Anyone been to an ortho spine consult?

Massage Irritation Created by divinesunshine7
Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 07:14 AM

Posted by divinesunshine7
30 Jul 2016, 07:14 AM

Have any of you had a massage in the area of a Tarlov and it caused more pain?

Encouragement Created by divinesunshine7
Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 07:45 AM

Posted by divinesunshine7
30 Jul 2016, 07:45 AM

Doctors Remember that you must become your own advocate. Research and know what nerves effect what regions of the body. If you have Tarlovs on the sacrum know what nerves could be affected. You may have to educate the doctors. If they dismiss you, let them go and don't try to prove anything. Find a new one. Remember that they are your consultant and if they don't offer insight then keep looking. If they are not open minded, you don't want them as your doctor. Chances are you will be their only Tarlov patient unless they are a neurosurgeon. Family and Friends They may not be capable of understanding you. They will notice you have changed, but remember before you had this issue you probably had no need to really understand either. Be patient with others and understand that it is like a new culture for you. Some friends will move on and others will still be nice, but won't make much effort . Some fear what they do not understand and this can be easier for them to deal with by ignoring the need for change. Remember that while you cannot go hiking with them or shop all day or even sit on the hard seats at a baseball field with no back or neck support that your spirit is still the same and you are still as precious. This journey just means you will need to adjust. They do not likely relate to constantly assessing your environment for the most comfortable seat. They may also not understand your new found frustration over having to repeat things because of a lack of endurance or even that your house is messy or you left something on the floor because you could not bend over one more time. You will be seen differently so know who you are and look for validation in yourself. Learn to make your complaints more generic. I don't feel well is sufficient and leave the details off if you can. Hearing those details make most people uncomfortable. Keep a diary where you can put those thoughts and feelings that others don't want to hear. Otherwise you could appear as a Debbie downer. Spend some time with pets. They help the brain release endorphines and help relieve stress. Taking care of someone else is good for you. Forgive others for moving on after all, your paths are different. Be patient with your significant other. You are different to them now in some cases like a whole new person. They have to learn to adjust too. Learn about their style of communication and be complementary to that. Reassure them with appreciation. Don't criticize for things like how they fold the laundry, etc. Don't try to control the environment as this is a sign you need some introspection. Focus on controlling how you react. If you cannot do your old hobbies then find new ones. You are responsible for your own happiness and joy. Know the difference. Happiness comes from how you react to external environment and is externally driven. Joy is self generated from your spirit. It creates an equilibrium and state of gratitude. If you want to talk, please do. Here is where you can share details freely.

Tarlov cyst diagnosis Created by cgolden
Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 07:10 AM

Posted by divinesunshine7
30 Jul 2016, 07:10 AM

I am glad that your pain specialist is willing to try the block. Mine would not do it. They probably read that any puncture to the spine could cause more of them and are afraid to risk making a mistake. Dr. F even offered to talk to them, but they were unwilling. There is still so much to learn about these and patients often have to become the expert. Remember that most of the doctors practicing today we're taught either nothing about them or taught that they do not cause symptoms. As long as your doctor is careful your spine should be fine and maybe you will notice a difference. It is something you will have to decide. How are you doing now? Any updates?

Posted by ljriley2016
27 Jan 2016, 11:05 PM

Hello. My husband was recently diagnosed with Tarlov Cysts. For almost 2 years we didn't and couldn't get answers to our questions until we finally did. You need to go to Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation and also here and you could see how serious this issue is.There are only 2 surgeons in the country that specialize in Tarlov Cysts and one is in CA and one is in TX. Please, I hope you read this and will look into this more. Good luck and God Bless

Posted by cgolden
27 Nov 2015, 06:09 PM

Hi all, I flew to see Dr. F from Florida since I have 2 Tarlov cysts and pain that is consistent with them. One of them is 1 CM long and about to go on disability given the pain. I hate to give up my work. In the absence of anything else wrong and with a sucky quality of life, I figured it was a no brainer. He suggested I get a block at S-2 and see if i get pain relief and that would suggest this is my problem. My pain doctor suggested that it could still be the problem even if the block doesn't relieve the pain. What has been the experience of this group and why would i need to have the block. Has this been the group's experience?

Tarlov Surgery outcome? Created by Christl
Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 11:47 AM

Posted by divinesunshine7
30 Jul 2016, 11:41 AM

Dr. Frank Fagenbaum has a website you can check out and then you can contact his office. He will do a phone consultant and you will send your records to him. He is in Dallas, Texas. My pain management would not cooperate and do the block. He even offered to speak to them. Many doctors do not have a great deal of knowledge about Tarlovs. Dr. F. Is one of few that do. Reach out to him. You can also contact the Tarlovs Cysts Disease Foundation and they can provide information as well. Unfortunately, I even had one doctor tell me that he would refuse to listen to anything they said because why does a cyst need a foundation. You have to be your own advocate. Remember before doctors we're reducated on MS they thought it was all in people's heads. The Tarlovs Foundation is partnering with Harvard for at least one study.

Posted by sethuvs
12 Jul 2016, 12:52 PM

@Lynnsha,I was diagnosed 7 months back.. still managing pain through PT. I did freak out for first two months - so I guess its normal. I've been following the thread here and also hoping to avoid surgery. Many of them here seem to go couple of yrs before the symptom gets worse..I dont know if the cyst stays the same or grows over a period of time. Also, what cause the growth of these cysts? My pain is localized to legs so far. How about you?

Posted by Lynnsha
11 Jul 2016, 01:44 PM

Hello? Is anyone still on this forum? Does dr f still accept patients? Where is he located? And do these cysts get worse or stay the same? I'm kinda freaking out with this diagnosis

View Full Thread (18 more posts)
Tarlov institute in Kansas city Created by Cklindner
Last updated 26 Jan 2013, 02:39 PM

Posted by melger2005
26 Jan 2013, 02:39 PM

Hello there I was just wondering if there is another option besides surgery to take care of the cyst. I am a mother of two young boys and there is no way I would be avle to have the surgery and be laid up in bed recovering. I dont want to miss my childrens lives. I also would like to know what other patients are taking for the pain.

Posted by gem0617
1 Mar 2011, 05:39 PM

If you are referring to Dr. Frank Feigenbaum then yes, I have heard of many positive outcomes from surgery with this Neurosurgeon. But you must remember, each individual is different and surgical results may differ from patient to patient due to age, additional medical conditions, or current cyst damage.

Posted by Cklindner
13 Nov 2009, 05:20 AM

Would love to hear from anyone who has been to the tarlov institute. Has anyone experienced success with tarlov surgery?

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I have just undergone my second TC surgery for a recurring S2 cyst. First surgery was successful in 2009 with no post op complications. My recent surgery was 2 days ago and I'm on home rest for a...
Recently diagnosed with tarlov cysts and seeking information.
Recently diagnosed with Tarlov Cyct at S2. Looking for local/online support groups and ways to treat pain.
I was diagnosed in March 2016. I have had Mri's and CT scans. I seen a neosurgeon he is not concerned about my thoracic cyst he said the pain is in my lower spine.
Had TC surgery in KC in 2011. Did not improve. Still looking for a solution.
Recently diagnosed with a 1.7 cm S1 Tarlov cyst. It is symptomatic. Communication with others with experience would be most helpful.
I sustained an injury and it has been a long journey with doctors. I herniated some discs one badly enough that it pinched the spinal cord. Formed Tarlovs at different levels including the neck. ...
I have been diagnosed with Tarlov cyst(s).
I am a 41 year old female, was in rear ended in 2014. have been having issues ever since. been to several doctors and not one of them could find where all the pain was coming from. I obtained my...
Hi im 43 year old landscape manager from Scotland, suffered from sciatica for about 10 years . July14 massive bout of sciatica , mri sep14 large l5s1 prolapse microdissection Dec 14 failed .Feb 15...
Hi. <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>I 'm Laura. My husband , Joseph is the person with the rare disorder. Tarlov Cysts. For months, almost 2 years, we went back and forth to different doctors, trying to...
My name is Eleanor. I am 54 years old. I have been diagnosed with bulging disc and tarlov cyst 7 years ago and I have been in pain since then.
I have Tarlov cysts <p>&nbsp;</p>I am a 51 year old female living in Wisconsin
I have had tarlov cyst diagnosed for 3 years now, how found no relief and they just continue to grow.
My perineural cyst were discovered occasionaly in a MRI made in 1999. Only in 2010 a neurologist labelled them as symptomatic Tarlov cyst. In the following years I had ups and downs (I never took d...
My perineural cyst were discovered occasionaly in a MRI made in 1999. Only in 2010 a neurologist labelled them as symptomatic Tarlov cyst. In the following years I had ups and downs (I never took d...
Mother of 3. 2007 showed cysts in the sacrum s2, 2nd mri in 2014 showed it slightly larger. None of the dr's has said I have tarlov cyst but when I ask they say confirm they are cysts but they don'...
I have five Tarvol cyst large in size, from 5mm to 8mm that cause a lot of pain in my spine. This was found on the MRI test due to back pain and sharp pains in my right side. I am not sure what the...
I suffer from Tarlov cyst disease
Grandma with tarlov cyst s2 diagnosed 2014 <p>&nbsp;</p>
Recent diagnosis of Bilateral Tarlov Cysts at s1.
I'm from Chile, my English it isn't good, I've 3 beautiful kids and a husband. <p>&nbsp;</p>My TC is in cervical zone (c5-c6) . I've a surgery on November in Chile , but the TC it's here again. I w...
I was diagnosed with 3 xTarlov cysts on 3 June 2013 and then had surgery by Dr Feigenbaum on 5 August 2013 in Cyprus.
I was recently diagnosed with Tarlov and synovial cysts on my spine
I have been suffering from Tarlov Cyst since April of 2012. I just want to communicate with other patients who have the same problem. The doctors I see here in town really have no idea what they ar...
I have 3 Tarlov Cysts in my cervical spine. I had a severe injury to my neck and these were found later during an MRI. I have always had ritht and left intermittent sciatic pain. I have had shingle...
Life altering Tarlov cyst, pineal brain cyst, chronic pain person who has been rejected by medical community.
I am living with a rare diagnosis of Cervical Tarlov Cysts and a giant Sacral Meningeal Cyst. <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>I live in Brampton, ON and there is no treatment, and no Canadian support t...
I have a lot of health problems but manage with the power of the Lord to keep myself out of the pity pot (most days) and to maintain a sense of humor. <p>&nbsp;</p>I'm happily married, have one so...

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Created by robert_RG | Last updated 27 Feb 2017, 12:33 AM

Tarlov Cyst

Created by fiveand10jo | Last updated 13 Feb 2017, 05:58 PM

Massage Irritation

Created by divinesunshine7 | Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 07:14 AM


Created by divinesunshine7 | Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 07:45 AM

Tarlov cyst diagnosis

Created by cgolden | Last updated 30 Jul 2016, 07:10 AM


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