, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 299-308
Date: 17 Nov 2012

Subaxial cervical juxtafacet cysts: single institution surgical experience and literature review

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Abstract

Objectives

Juxtafacet cysts (JFCs) of the subaxial cervical spine are rare causes of neurological deficits. Their imaging characteristics, relationship to segmental instability, and potential for inducing acute symptomatic deterioration have only been described in a few case reports and small case series. The objective of the current study was to review the surgical experience at our center and across the literature to better define these variables.

Methods

A single-institution, multisurgeon series of 12 consecutive patients (mean age 63.4 years, range 52–83 years) harboring 14 JFCs treated across 9 years was retrospectively reviewed. Clinical history, neurological status, preoperative imaging, operative findings, pathology, and postoperative outcomes were obtained from medical records. The mean follow up was 9.2 ± 7.8 months. A literature review identified 35 studies with 89 previously reported cases of surgically treated subaxial cervical JFCs.

Results

Consistent with previously reported cases, most JFCs in our series involved the C7/T1 level. Nine patients reported axial neck pain, 12 patients had radicular symptoms, four patients had myelopathy, and one patient experienced rapid neurological decline attributable to cystic hemorrhage. Cyst expansion without hemorrhage caused subacute deterioration in one patient. All patients experienced sensory and/or motor improvement following surgical decompression. Preoperative axial neck pain improved in eight of nine patients (89 %). Seven out of 12 patients (58 %) underwent fusion either at the time of decompression (six patients) or at a delayed timepoint within the follow-up period (one patient). Prior history of cervical instrumentation, hypermobility on dynamic imaging, and other risk factors for segmental instability were more common in our series than in previous reports.

Conclusions

Our findings lead us to advocate for early decompression rather than prolonged conservative treatment, for pre- and postoperative dynamic imaging, and for fusion in selected cases as an initial surgical consideration.

Previously presented (in part) at Congress of Neurological Surgeons in poster abstract form San Francisco, CA, October 2010.