Tarlov cysts are abnormal sacs of spinal fluid that usually form at the lower end of the spine, which is called the sacrum. Tarlov cysts contain spinal nerve fibers within the cyst wall.
The cause of a Tarlov cyst is unknown but may be related to:
Although gender may not be a risk factor, Tarlov cysts have more often been found in women than men.
Tarlov cysts may be linked to connective tissue disorders such as lupus and Marfan syndrome.
Most of the time, Tarlov cysts do not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
If you have a Tarlov cyst, the following may cause it to become painful or cause other symptoms:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to see a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
If you are experiencing symptoms, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Treatment options might include:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Therapeutic percutaneous image-guided aspiration of spinal cysts. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence website. Available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/IPG223guidance.pdf. Updated August 2007. Accessed November 25, 2013.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Tarlov cyst information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tarlov_cysts/tarlov_cysts.htm. Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.