Synovial Cyst as a Marker for Lumbar Instability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Seba Ramhmdani, Wataru Ishida, Alexander Perdomo-Pantoja, Timothy F. Witham, Sheng Fu L. Lo, Ali Bydon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The pathogenesis of synovial cysts is largely unknown; however, they have been increasingly thought of as markers of spinal facet instability and typically associated with degenerative spondylosis. We specifically investigated the incidence of concomitant synovial cysts with underlying degenerative spondylolisthesis. Methods: A literature search was performed using 4 online databases to assess the association between lumbar synovial cysts and degenerative spinal pathological features. Meta-analyses were performed on the prevalence rates of coexisting degenerative spinal pathological entities and treatment modalities. A random effects model was used to calculate the mean and 95% confidence intervals. Results: A total of 17 studies encompassing 824 cases met the inclusion criteria. The pooled prevalence rates of concurrent spondylolisthesis, facet arthropathy, and degenerative disc disease at the same level of the synovial cysts were 42.5% (range, 39.0%–46.1%), 89.3% (range, 79.0%–94.8%), and 48.8% (range, 43.8%–53.9%), respectively. Among these, patients with coexisting spondylolisthesis were more likely to undergo spinal fusion surgery (vs. laminectomy alone) and reoperation than were patients without spondylolisthesis with a pooled odds ratio of 11.5 (95% confidence interval, 4.5–29.1; P < 0.0001) and 2.0 (95% confidence interval, 0.9–4.2; P = 0.088), respectively. Conclusions: Patients with a combination of synovial cysts and degenerative spondylolisthesis are more likely to undergo spinal fusion surgery than laminectomy alone compared with patients with synovial cysts and no preoperative spondylolisthesis. Furthermore, patients with synovial cysts and spondylolisthesis are more likely to require additional fusion surgery. The results from the present review lend credence to the argument that synovial cyst herniation might be a manifestation of an unstable spinal level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1059-e1068
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet arthropathy
  • Lumbar spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Synovial cyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Synovial Cyst as a Marker for Lumbar Instability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this