A series of 60 juxtafacet cysts: clinical presentation, the role of spinal instability, and treatment

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  • 1 Departments of Neurological Surgery and Surgery, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria, Illinois
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✓ Spinal instability may be a cause of juxtafacet cyst formation and the pain and disability that occur after surgical excision of the cyst. To determine the role of instability, a retrospective review of charts identified 60 facet cysts in 56 patients treated over a 6-year period. Three patients developed an asynchronous cyst at the same level but on the opposite side of the previously resected cyst and one patient had a recurrent cyst in the same location. Forty-one cysts were present in patients with radiculopathy and 16 in patients with neurogenic claudication. Two patients presented with myelopathy and one had cauda equina syndrome. Thirty-six of the 60 cysts were located at L4–5, the most mobile segment. Fifteen patients had spondylolisthesis, of whom two experienced worsening spondylolisthesis postoperatively. Seven patients had scoliosis and 20 had systemic arthritis. Fifty-five cysts were resected via mesial facetectomy. Six of the patients undergoing this procedure had transverse process fusions at initial surgery for preoperative instability. Two others required fusion for postoperative instability and increased spondylolisthesis. Follow-up review was available in 95% of patients with an average duration of 12 months. Forty patients had excellent relief of symptoms, 12 had occasional back pain, and one patient did poorly. Flexion/extension views of the spine are recommended both pre- and postoperatively to identify the need for fusion in patients with juxtafacet cysts.

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