A systematic review of the efficacy of surgical intervention in the management of symptomatic Tarlov cysts: a meta-analysis
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Introduction: Tarlov cysts (TC) are sacral perineural cysts that are often found incidentally during spinal imaging. In a small fraction, symptomatic TC can cause pain, bowel, bladder and/or sexual dysfunction, as well as motor and sensory deficits. While many surgeons regard TCs as a non-operative entity, there have been suggestions that operative intervention in carefully selected symptomatic patients may be beneficial. The aim of this meta-analysis is to identify whether surgical treatment for symptomatic TCs is beneficial with an acceptable complication profile.Materials and methods: The authors conducted a systematic outcome analysis of symptomatic TCs treated either with surgery or conservatively managed.Results: Sixteen studies (N = 238) met the inclusion criteria for final meta-analysis. The literature search was performed using PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, and EMBASE databases up to September 2017 and with an updated search in April 2019. The post-operative complication rate in patients undergoing surgical intervention was 16.9 (11.8 to 22.7) and cyst recurrence was 8.5 (3.5 to 15.4). When a complication occurred, the most frequent complication of surgical intervention was the development of a surgical site infection and/or CSF leak. Of the 15 studies reporting long-term follow-up, 81.0 (74.0-88.0) of patients remained symptom-free for more than 1 year (Mean: 27.5 months, SD = 11.5).Conclusion: We rigorously analyse the efficacy of open surgical decompression and repair of symptomatic TCs and corroborate the findings of sustained long-term resolution of symptoms.
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