This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Tarlov cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are usually found at the bottom of the spine (the sacrum). They grow in the roots of the nerves that grow out of the spinal cord. Most of the time, Tarlov cysts don’t cause symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include pain in the lower back, buttocks, or stomach. Other symptoms may include muscle weakness, numbness, loss of bladder or bowel control, or sexual dysfunction. Without treatment, Tarlov cysts may cause permanent nerve damage. The cause of Tarlov cysts is unknown. They may occur because of a buildup of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that occurs after trauma, surgery, or a small abnormality in spine development. Diagnosis of a Tarlov cyst is made based on the symptoms and through imaging studies such as an MRI and/or CT myelogram. Treatment depends on the symptoms and size of the cyst(s). There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options.
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