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Spinal ganglion cyst presenting with radiculopathy: diagnostic challenges and differential



Ganglion cysts are benign soft tissue lesions, usually arising from periarticular connective tissue. These are very rarely reported in the spine, but when seen can cause radiculopathy or myelopathy.

Case presentation

A 68-year-old female patient presented with worsening radiculopathy and right foot drop and imaging noted a right L5–S1 foraminal mass. The lesion was gross totally resected. Histological analysis revealed myxoid degeneration and inflammation, without a synovial lining, consistent with ganglion cyst.


While uncommon, intra-foraminal ganglion cysts can be distinguished from synovial cysts through imaging and histology and are typically amenable to surgical resection. Greater knowledge and insight about differentiating ganglion versus synovial cyst may prevent resection of facet joints and prevent a fusion procedure.

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Fig. 1: Axial MRI imaging.
Fig. 2: Sagittal MRI imaging.
Fig. 3: Intaoperative ultrasound imaging.
Fig. 4: Lesion gross appearance.
Fig. 5: Histologic examination of the ganglion cyst reveals a fibroconnective tissue wall (triangle) with area of mural reactive chronic inflammation (arrow), and myxoid degeneration that leads to cyst formation (star).


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Correspondence to Lohit Velagapudi.

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Velagapudi, L., Matias, C.M., Elia, C. et al. Spinal ganglion cyst presenting with radiculopathy: diagnostic challenges and differential. Spinal Cord Ser Cases 7, 6 (2021).

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