If you’ve been diagnosed with tarlov cyst disease, you might feel lost about what to do next. These cysts are sacs filled with fluid, found near the spine’s base. They often lead to chronic pain and other issues like trouble with bladder and bowels, as well as sexual problems. Knowing the symptoms and treatments is key to handling this condition well.

What you should understand first is that the size of a Tarlov cyst matters a lot. Bigger cysts likely cause more symptoms. It’s possible to have many cysts of different sizes. These can lead to pain, numbness, and difficulties controlling your bladder or bowel. Some might also face sexual issues or leg weakness. Even if a cyst is not causing symptoms now, it could start to in the future as it grows.

The exact reason why tarlov cysts happen is still a big mystery. It’s thought to be linked with how nerve sheaths develop. Even though we first found out about these cysts in 1938, there’s still a lot to learn.

There are multiple ways to treat tarlov cyst disease. For some, non-surgical methods like painkillers, nerve stimulation, or draining the cysts can help. For others, surgery to remove or fix the cysts might be the best answer. The choice to have surgery depends on a lot of things, like cyst size, its effects on the nerves, and the person’s health and age.

Working closely with your medical team is critical if you have this disease. Together, you can figure out a plan that’s best for you. Many people with Tarlov cysts find ways to live well and improve their life quality with the right help and care.

What is Tarlov Cyst Disease?

Tarlov cysts, or perineural cysts, are fluid-filled sacs found near the spine’s base. They affect the nerve roots, especially in the sacral region. These cysts usually appear along the posterior nerve roots and may have spinal nerve root fibers in their walls.

Definition and Overview

Tarlov cyst disease shows up as these fluid-filled sacs at the spine’s base. The definition of Tarlov cyst disease covers the cysts and their symptoms. The overview of Tarlov cyst disease talks about causes, how often it happens, and its effect on health.

Locations of Tarlov Cysts

Tarlov cysts usually form where the posterior nerve roots are at the spine’s bottom, especially in the sacral area. Their exact spots can differ, and so can their size and growth among people.


Tarlov Cyst Disease Symptoms

Tarlov cysts, often without symptoms, can cause big issues when they do. These cysts are fluid-filled sacs that might compress or harm nearby nerve roots. This can lead to serious symptoms. Chronic pain is a major worry for people with Tarlov cysts.

Pain usually starts in the lower back then moves down to the buttocks and legs. Abnormal sensations, like burning or numbness, may be felt in the legs or feet.

Pain and Numbness

Pain and numbness from Tarlov cysts really lower your quality of life. As these cysts grow, they might press on nerve roots, causing severe pain. This pain is often felt in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. Some may feel a numbness or tingling sensation in these areas, making everyday life difficult.

Bladder and Bowel Issues

Cysts near the sacrum can mess with bladder and bowel control. This can lead to incontinence, pain while trying to use the bathroom (dysuria), trouble fully emptying the bladder, and constipation.

Sexual Dysfunction

Tarlov cysts also affect sexual health. Nerve compression and sensation changes can cause problems like impotence or other sexual difficulties.


Causes of Tarlov Cyst Disease

The cause of Tarlov cysts is not fully known yet. But, experts think a few things might lead to them. These fluid-filled sacs form near the nerve roots of the spine, mostly in the sacral area.

Developmental Variations

One idea is that Tarlov cysts can come from a birth defect. This could make a strange connection between the sac of cerebrospinal fluid and the nerve area. As a result, fluid leaks and cysts can form.

Trauma and Injury

Another cause could be injury to the back. People have seen Tarlov cysts show symptoms after accidents or heavy lifting. This heavy stress can break the nerve sheath, causing fluid buildup and cyst growth.

Connective Tissue Disorders

People with certain health conditions might be more likely to get Tarlov cysts. Conditions like Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome might make the tissue around your spine weaker. This could help in the cyst formation process.

causes of tarlov cysts

Incidence and Prevalence of Tarlov Cyst Disease

Tarlov cyst disease affects many people. It can be hard to know exactly how many. Studies show that small, symptom-free Tarlov cysts are in 5 to 9 percent of the group. But, large cysts that cause problems are not common.

A recent study looked into who gets Tarlov cysts. It found that 86.6 percent of those with Tarlov cysts were women. Only 13.4 percent were men. Most were between 31 and 60 years old, making up 80.4 percent of the group.

The study also looked at how bad the symptoms were. Only 3 percent had no pain. Meanwhile, 4.2 percent felt their pain was very mild. But, 38.6 percent said their pain was severe. And 15.1 percent found it to be very severe.

Overall, between 4.6 to 9 percent of adults may have Tarlov cysts. Women seem to get them more than men. But, we’re not sure how many people have severe symptoms. This is because it is often missed by doctors.

Tarlov cyst disease incidence

Diagnosis of Tarlov Cyst Disease

Figuring out if you have Tarlov cysts is key to getting the right treatment. Your doctor might guess you have them after talking about your symptoms and checking you carefully. They’d then order special tests to be sure.

Imaging Tests

An MRI or a CT scan can show if you have these cysts. These scans let the doctor see the cysts, how big they are, and where they are. A myelogram, using a contrast dye, x-rays, and CT, shows a detailed image where these cysts grow.

Neurological Examination

Your doctor will check your nerves to see if the cysts are causing problems. They’ll look at your response to touch, your reflexes, and your muscle strength. This test helps pinpoint which nerves are affected by the cysts. It also helps plan what additional tests you might need.

Urological Tests

If your cysts are causing bladder or bowel issues, you might need more tests. These tests check how well your bladder works, look inside your bladder and urethra, and inspect your kidneys.

how to diagnose tarlov cyst disease

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

For people with Tarlov cysts, non-surgical methods might ease symptoms. They are best for those with small, less severe cysts or who can’t have surgery.

Pain Medication

Doctors might suggest NSAIDs to reduce nerve irritation and inflammation. These drugs are targeted specifically to relieve the pain from Tarlov cysts.

Nerve Stimulation

TENS, short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is another option. It uses mild electrical signals on the skin to disrupt pain messages from the cysts.

Cyst Aspiration

Draining the cyst’s fluid might be advised by healthcare providers. This process, called cyst aspiration, locates the cyst with CT scans and then drains the fluid. But, it may not stop the cyst from refilling and causing issues again.

While these treatments can help with the pain temporarily, they aren’t a cure for the cyst itself. The outcomes from non-surgical methods can differ for each patient.

non-surgical treatments for tarlov cysts

Surgical Treatment for Tarlov Cyst Disease

Some people with Tarlov cysts might need surgery if other treatments don’t work. There are different types of surgery available. These surgeries aim to deal with Tarlov cyst symptoms.

Cyst Fenestration and Drainage

Cyst fenestration and drainage is a common procedure. It includes a surgery to expose the cyst’s location, usually in the spine. The doctor will open the cyst, remove its fluid, and close it back carefully.

This helps prevent the cyst from filling up again with cerebrospinal fluid.

Cyst Removal

Sometimes, the entire Tarlov cyst is taken out through surgery. The surgeon separates the cyst carefully from the surrounding nerves and tissues. This can stop the cyst from coming back.

Imbrication and Closure

Imbrication and closure is another surgery option. Here, the cyst’s cavity is filled with something like fat or glue. This stops it from refilling with fluid after it’s closed.

The choice of surgery depends on several factors. This includes how bad the condition is, nerve compression, cyst size, the person’s health, age, and more. A healthcare professional will guide you to the best surgery for your situation.

Complications and Risks

While Tarlov cyst surgery can help many, it comes with risks. The main issue is a CSF leak afterward. For this, some might need to rest in bed with it raised. They might also wear a corset. These can help a CSF leak to heal on its own sometimes.

CSF Leak

A CSF leak is the biggest risk after surgery for a Tarlov cyst. In good news, these leaks may fix themselves. Patients might need to lie down with their feet up and wear a corset to help reduce swelling.

Meningitis Risk

There is a slight chance of getting bacterial meningitis post-surgery. Doctors will closely watch and treat you to avoid this danger.

Persistent or Worsening Symptoms

Some patients won’t get the relief they hoped for even after surgery. Pain reduction is noted in some, but not everyone. The surgery might not completely stop the symptoms. It could make old symptoms worse or create new ones.

If you’re thinking about Tarlov cyst surgery, talking it out is vital. Make sure to discuss all the possible issues with your doctor. Understand your personal situation. This can help you make the best decision about your care.

Tarlov Cyst Disease and Gender

In Tarlov cyst disease, there’s a big gap seen between men and women. Studies show that women get it more than men. A recent survey found 86.6% of those with the disease were women. Only 13.4% were men.

The cause of this gender difference isn’t fully known. It might have to do with how men and women’s bodies work differently. This includes things like hormones and body shape.

Because more women get Tarlov cysts, we need to look closer at why. This study continues. It looks into why women seem to get these cysts and the pain and other problems that come with them. Learning more could help doctors find better ways to help patients.

Coping and Quality of Life

When all treatment options are used, making lifestyle changes is crucial for those with tarlov cyst disease. Along with your doctor’s help, supervised pain management is key. Support groups are also great for coping, making your life better.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Finding comfortable sitting or standing positions is part of lifestyle changes. Also, modify activities to lessen pain. Using assistive devices when needed can help.

Pain Management Strategies

For pain, managing strategies range from medications to nerve stimulation. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team. Together, you can find ways to improve daily life with tarlov cysts.

Support Groups

Support groups can be a big help for those with tarlov cyst disease. Talking to people who share your challenges can be comforting. It offers insight and builds a supportive community.

Prognosis and Outlook

The future for those with Tarlov cyst disease varies a lot. Different treatments work differently for each person. This means what helps one patient might not help another.

Some people get much better with surgery or other treatments. Yet, some might not see much improvement or find their issues getting worse. It’s quite individual.

The overall future for Tarlov cysts patients depends on many things. This includes the cysts’ size and where they are, how treatments work, and managing symptoms.

Regular check-ups and working closely with your healthcare team can help. They can improve how well you do and your life with the disease.

Even though outcomes can differ, there are chances for good results. For instance, surgery helps about 7 in 10 patients a lot. They see either complete symptom relief or a big change for the better.

These improvements can last for over two years. But, we still have much to learn about the disease’s long-term effects.

The future for those with Tarlov cyst disease is quite personal. It depends on each person’s unique situation.

Working closely with doctors to manage the disease is key. It can help improve your future and quality of life.

Tarlov cyst disease

Tarlov cyst disease involves cysts filled with fluid that appear on the nerve roots of the lower spine. This happens mostly in the sacral region. The cysts can lead to pain, numbness, or issues with the bladder, bowels, and sex. An interesting fact is that many people with tarlov cyst disease have no symptoms at all. The cause isn’t clear, but it might be linked to how our bodies develop, injuries, or certain diseases affecting the connective tissues. Though tarlov cysts aren’t common, they might affect up to 9 people out of 100.

To diagnose tarlov cyst disease, doctors use imaging tests, check how you move, and might look at your bladder and bowels. There are different ways to treat it, such as using drugs to ease the pain, trying nerve stimulation, draining the cysts, or surgery. But, these treatments work differently for everyone. Women tend to get tarlov cysts more often than men. This issue can bring either temporary or constant pain.

Joining in clinical trials can help us understand tarlov cysts better. This knowledge can lead to new methods of spotting, treating, or even stopping the disease. If you’re dealing with tarlov cyst disease, working closely with your doctor is crucial. Together, you can find ways to reduce or manage your symptoms.


Tarlov cyst disease is a complex problem that can really change your life. It can cause severe pain, trouble with movement, and other worrisome symptoms. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment is very important because the issue is often missed or mistaken for something else.

There are both non-surgical and surgical treatments for Tarlov cysts. How well these work can really be different from person to person. We still need more research to fully deal with this rare spinal disorder. But, by teaming up with your doctors, you can find ways to handle or even get better from your symptoms.

Tarlov cysts are quite common, affecting as many as 13.2% of people. They tend to affect more women than men. While the symptoms can be tough, it’s crucial to approach diagnosis and treatment in a thorough way. This is key to managing the situation.


What are Tarlov cysts?

Tarlov cysts are small sacs filled with fluid. They grow on nerve roots near the base of the spine. This area is called the sacral region.They often form on the back portion of nerve roots.

What are the symptoms of Tarlov cysts?

Someone with Tarlov cysts might feel pain in their back or legs. They could also have feelings of numbness or tingling. Additionally, they might find it hard to control their bladder and bowel actions.If these cysts press on the nerves heavily, they may cause weakness in the legs. This doesn’t happen often.

What causes Tarlov cysts?

Doctors are not sure exactly what causes these cysts. One thought is that they might come from differences in how the nerve sheath forms. They could also be linked to nerve sheath injuries.

How common are Tarlov cysts?

Many people might have tiny Tarlov cysts and not know it. Roughly, 5 to 9 out of every 100 people may have these small, harmless ones. However, cysts that grow large enough to cause problems are not common.

How are Tarlov cysts diagnosed?

Doctors use several methods to diagnose Tarlov cysts. They talk with the patient to learn about their symptoms. They also examine the patient to check their nerves.Tests like MRI, CT scans, and myelograms help see the cysts. Doctors may also check the bladder and bowels to understand the full impact of the cysts.

What are the non-surgical treatment options for Tarlov cysts?

Without surgery, doctors can offer some help for the pain. They might suggest pain medicine. Nerve stimulation or draining the cyst might also be options for some relief.However, these methods are not guaranteed to stop symptoms from coming back.

What are the surgical options for Tarlov cysts?

Surgery offers more direct options for Tarlov cysts. Doctors may cut open the cyst to let it drain. They could also remove the cyst wholly. Another option is to close off the cyst to stop the fluid inside.

What are the potential complications of Tarlov cyst surgery?

Surgery to treat Tarlov cysts can sometimes lead to serious issues. These include leaks of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, which could cause meningitis.After surgery, symptoms might not go away completely, or they might even get worse.

Are women more affected by Tarlov cysts than men?

Yes, it seems that Tarlov cysts affect women more than men. However, doctors don’t fully understand why this is the case.

How can patients cope with Tarlov cyst disease?

Patients can manage Tarlov cyst disease by making lifestyle changes. They can also learn pain management skills. Seeking help from support groups and healthcare providers is also very important.

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