Tarlov Cysts


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Tarlov cysts (also termed perineural cysts or meningeal cysts) are found in the sacrum. The sacrum is a set of bones found at the bottom of the spine. Tarlov cysts form when cerebrospinal fluid fill up sacs based at the sacrum.  Although not strictly the case, women are more likely than men to develop tarlov cysts.

Effects

The danger of tarlov cysts is that they can affect nerve roots, restricting the space available to these nerve roots and hence causing a shooting pain in the lower back. Other potential repercussions of Tarlov cysts include sciatica (a burning sensation in the lower back, which can spread to your buttocks and below your knee), incontinence, sexual dysfunction, headaches and a loss of control in limbs (particularly in your leg). Whilst these are simply side effects, if the cyst does add extra pressure on your nerves there is a likelihood that it can lead to your bones deteriorating, causing you both substantial weakness and pain.  Undoubtedly, the most threatening potential consequence of a tarlov cyst is permanent neurological damage, caused by nerve root compression.

Diagnosis

Tarlov cysts are diagnosed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), although the cysts detected by MRI scans are symptomless and benign.  Yet symptoms may appear if the nerve roots surrounding the cyst feels trauma.

Treatment

Tarlov cysts may have to be drained to ease the pressure and pain they cause to you, but the fluid will undoubtedly build up again so drainage is only really a temporary measure. In order to relieve chronic pain, you may be given corticosteroid injections, along with other kinds of injections, such as fibrin glue. Either way, the accepted way to stop the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid is to make your body less alkaline. This can be achieved if you adjust your diet, which your doctor will advise you on.

However, if you are unwilling to undertake such treatments and are still experiencing chronic pain, or who could be affected neurologically by the spinal damage, microsurgical removal of the cyst is an alternative option.


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