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Degenerative Intraspinal Cyst of the Cervical Spine: Case Report and Literature Review

Shima, Yasuko, MD,*; Rothman, Stephan L. G., MD,†; Yasura, Kou, MD,*; Takahashi, Shinobu, MD*

Case Report

Study Design.  A case report and a literature review are presented.

Objective.  To describe and review the clinical presentations, characteristic findings from imaging studies, and treatment of synovial and ganglion cysts arising within the cervical spinal canal.

Summary of Background Data.  Synovial and ganglion cysts in the cervical spine are rare. To the authors’ knowledge, 24 sporadic cases in all, designated by various terms, have been reported in the literature.

Methods.  Three cases of synovial and ganglion cysts in the cervical spine are reported as well as a review of the literature.

Results.  Characteristic findings from imaging studies included a fluid-containing extradural lesion demonstrated on magnetic resonance images and gas content in the lesion demonstrated on ordinary or sagittally reconstructed computed tomography images. A laminectomy with removal of the cyst was the treatment of choice in most cases.

Conclusions.  Neither communication with an adjacent facet joint nor histopathology of the cyst wall provides a persuasive basis for differentiating ganglion, synovial cyst, and cyst arising from the ligaments. To accommodate the varied presentations, the authors propose a comprehensive term for these lesions: “degenerative intraspinal cyst.”

From the *Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Nagahama City Hospital, Shiga, Japan, and

†Spinal Injury Service, Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Downy, California.

Acknowledgment date: May 14, 2001.

Acceptance date: July 5, 2001.

Device status category: 1.

Conflict of interest category: 14.

Address reprint requests to

Shinobu Takahashi, MD

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Nagahama City Hospital

313 Oinui-cho, Nagahama-shi

Shiga 526-8580



© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.