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Michael J. Rauzzino, R. Shane Tubbs, Eben Alexander III, Paul A. Grabb and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

Neurenteric cysts are infrequently reported congenital abnormalities believed to be derived from an abnormal connection between the primitive endoderm and ectoderm. The authors report a series of 13 patients treated over a 50-year period.

Methods

Of the 13 patients, seven were female and six were male. Their ages at presentation ranged widely from 5 weeks to 52 years of age. Children presented more commonly with cutaneous stigmata of occult spinal dysraphism (OSD) whereas adults presented primarily with pain. Neurological deficit as a presenting symptom was less common in our series, a finding that reflects the slow growth of these lesions. In all but one patient some form of vertebral anomaly was associated with the cystic lesions, including two patients with Klippel–Feil abnormalities. There was a high incidence of associated forms of OSD including split cord malformation, lipoma, dermal sinus tract, and tethered spinal cord. In previous reports the authors have suggested that neurenteric cysts are more common in the cervical region and in a position ventral to the cord. In the present series these cysts most commonly occurred as intradural, extramedullary masses in the thoracolumbar region, situated dorsal to the spinal cord. The median follow-up period was 7.5 years, and postoperative outcome reflected a patient's preoperative neurological status; in no patient was outcome worsened due to surgery.

Conclusions

Complete excision of the neurenteric cyst remains the treatment of choice, as subtotal excision is associated with recurrence.