(Perineural Cyst; Sacral Nerve Root Cyst)
Tarlov cysts are abnormal sacs of spinal fluid that usually form at the lower end of the spine, which is called the sacrum. Tarlov cysts contain spinal nerve fibers within the cyst wall.
The cause of a Tarlov cyst is unknown but may be related to:
Although gender may not be a risk factor, Tarlov cysts have more often been found in women than men.
Tarlov cysts may be linked to connective tissue disorders such as lupus and Marfan syndrome.
Most of the time, Tarlov cysts do not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
If you have a Tarlov cyst, the following may cause it to become painful or cause other symptoms:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to see a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
If you are experiencing symptoms, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Treatment options might include:
There are no guidelines to reduce your risk of forming a Tarlov cyst. If you have a Tarlov cyst that does not cause pain or other symptoms, avoiding injury or heavy lifting may reduce your chance of developing pain or other symptoms.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Therapeutic percutaneous image-guided aspiration of spinal cysts. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence website. Available at:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Tarlov cyst information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD