A New Classification for Pathologies of Spinal Meninges—Part 2: Primary and Secondary Intradural Arachnoid Cysts

Neurosurgery 81:217–229, 2017

Spinal intradural arachnoid cysts are rare causes of radiculopathy or myelopathy. Treatment options include resection, fenestration, or cyst drainage.

OBJECTIVE: To classify intradural spinal arachnoid cysts and present results of their treatment.

METHODS: Among 1519 patientswith spinal space occupying lesions, 130 patients demonstrated intradural arachnoid cysts. Neuroradiological and surgical features were reviewed and clinical data analyzed.

RESULTS: Twenty-one patients presented arachnoid cysts as a result of an inflammatory leptomeningeal reaction related to meningitis, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intrathecal injections, intradural surgery, or trauma, ie, secondary cysts. For the remaining 109 patients, no such history could be elucidated, ie, primary cysts. Forty-six percent of primary and 86% of secondary cysts were associated with syringomyelia. Patients presented after an average history of 53±88 months. Therewere 122 thoracic and 7 lumbar cysts plus 1 cervical cyst. Fifty-nine patients with primary and 15 patients with secondary cysts underwent laminotomies with complete or partial cyst resection and duraplasty. Mean follow-up was 57 ± 52 months. In the first postoperative year, profound improvements for primary cysts were noted, in contrast to marginal changes for secondary cysts. Progression-free survival for 10 years following surgery was determined as 83% for primary compared to 15% for secondary cysts. Despite differences in clinical presentation, progression-free survival was almost identical for patients with or without syringomyelia.

CONCLUSIONS: Complete or partial resection leads to favorable short- and long-term results for primary arachnoid cysts. For secondary cysts, surgery can only provide clinical stabilization for a limited time due to the often extensive arachnoiditis.