Article Text


Lumbar facet synovial cyst
  1. N V Deshmukh,
  2. P Kanse
  1. Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Withybush General Hospital, Haverfordwest
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Deshmukh;

Statistics from

Answers on p 423.

A 75 year old woman presented to the orthopaedic clinic with low back pain and left leg pain for last three months. The low back pain was of gradual onset and was progressive. The pain was aggravated on walking and standing. On clinical examination the patient was fit and well. She had bilateral free straight leg raise. Femoral nerve stretch test on the left leg was positive. She was intact neurologically and the range of movements in the spine were terminally restricted. Both hips and sacral iliac joints were clinically normal. A clinical diagnosis of lateral canal stenosis was made.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbosacral spine revealed a well defined posterolateral extradural cystic mass (see fig 1). It had a low intensity wall signal and a high intensity content signal. Associated degenerative and spondylolisthetic spine was noted. The cyst was in continuity with the degenerative facet and gadolinium enhancement of the cyst showed a lumbar facet synovial cyst.

Figure 1

(A) and (B) MRI scans of the lumbar spine showing a well defined extradural cyst on the posterolateral aspect.


  1. What is a lumbar facet synovial cyst?

  2. How is it diagnosed?

  3. How is it treated?

View Abstract

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Self assessment answers
    The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine