Q:

How are spinal cysts treated?

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Quick Answer

The treatment for spinal cysts, known as syringomyelia, is usually surgical, according to Mayo Clinic. In some cases, doctor may choose to monitor the cysts instead because they sometimes go away on their own.

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Full Answer

The goal of surgery for a spinal cyst is to remove the pressure on the spinal cord, which allows for the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, explains Mayo Clinic. There are several surgical options for spinal cysts, and the type of surgery depends on where or how severe the cyst is. For instance, if the cyst forms due to a Chiari malformation, a doctor may perform a surgery that enlarges the opening at the base of the skull and expands the covering of the brain. This helps reduce pressure in that area, and it allows the spinal fluid to flow.

Draining the cyst is another surgical treatment option, according to Mayo Clinic. In this case, a doctor may insert a shunt, which is a tube that allows the fluid to flow in the correct direction. Usually, one end of the tube is in the cyst, and the other flows into the abdomen. If there is an obstruction causing a cyst, the doctor removes it surgically, which allows the fluid in the cyst to flow out.

If the cyst is the result of an abnormality of the spine, the doctor corrects the issue to treat the cyst, as Mayo Clinic explains. For example, a doctor may release a twist in the spinal cord that is causing the cyst to form. Allowing this to release allows the spinal fluid to flow normally.

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