Congenital Spinal Cysts: An Update and Review of the Literature

Sarah E. McNutt, Oliver D. Mrowczynski, Jessica Lane, Ryan Jafrani, Pratik Rohatgi, Charles Specht, R. Shane Tubbs, T. Thomas Zacharia, Elias B. Rizk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Congenital spinal cysts are rare and encompass a wide variety of diseases including arachnoid, enterogenous, teratomatous, neurenteric, foregut, bronchogenic, epithelial, ependymal, dermoid, and epidermoid cysts. Here, we elucidate the epidemiology, pathology, pathogenesis, and diagnostic findings of the most common congenital spinal cysts, followed by a discussion of their presentation and treatment options. Differentiating the cause of each lesion is crucial for targeted clinical and surgical management for the patient. Our review describes how arachnoid cysts can be observed, fenestrated, percutaneously drained, or shunted; however, the primary goal for neurenteric, dermoid, and epidermoid cysts is removal. Further, we discuss how patient presentation is dependent on the rate of growth and location of compression on the spinal cord and nerve roots. However, although many of these lesions are discovered incidentally on imaging, the spectrum of possible symptoms include pain, weakness, ataxia, bladder incontinence, and progressive or acute neurologic deficits. We present and review the histology and imaging of a variety of cysts and discuss how although the goal of treatment is resection, the risks of surgery must be considered against the benefits of complete resection in each case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-491.e9
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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