[Sciatica due to unusual causes: Tarlov cysts and nerve roots anomalies].Rev Neurol (Paris). 2009 Mar; 165(3):282-7.RN
Tarlov cysts and nerve roots anomalies usually involve lumbosacral roots and are often asymptomatic. MRI has enabled recognition of many conditions that used to be missed by CT or myelography investigations performed for back and leg pain. However, even without additional compressive impingement (disc hernia, spondylolisthesis or lumbar canal stenosis) these anomalies can be responsible for sciatica, motor deficit and bladder sphincter dysfunction. Tarlov cysts are perinervous dilatations of the dorsal root ganglion. CT and especially MRI can reveal these cysts and their precise relations with the neighboring structures. Delayed filling of the cysts can be visualized on the myelogram. MRI is more sensitive than CT myelography for a positive diagnosis of nerve root anomalies, a differential diagnosis with disc hernia and classification of these anomalies. Surgical treatment is indicated for symptomatic Tarlov cysts and nerve root anomalies resistant to conservative treatment. Better outcome is observed in patients with an additional compressive impingement component. We report two cases of sciatica: one caused by Tarlov cysts diagnosed by MRI and the other by nerve root anomalies diagnosed by CT myelography. In both cases, conservative treatment was undertaken. The clinical, radiological and therapeutic aspects of these disorders are discussed.