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J Neurosurg. 2000 Oct;93(2 Suppl):287-90.

Dorsal arachnoid web with spinal cord compression: variant of an arachnoid cyst? Report of two cases.

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  • 1Department of Surgery (Neurosurgery), University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.


Spinal arachnoid cysts are diverticula of the subarachnoid space that may compress the spinal cord; these lesions are most commonly found in the thoracic spine. Two patients who presented with thoracic myelopathy were noted on magnetic resonance imaging to have focal indentation of the dorsal thoracic cord, with syringomyelia inferior to the site of compression. Both patients were found at operation to have discrete arachnoid "webs" tenaciously attached to the dura mater and pia mater. These webs were not true arachnoid cysts, yet they blocked the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and caused focal compression of the spinal cord. The mass effect appeared to be the result of a pressure gradient created by the obstruction of CSF flow in the dorsal aspect of the subarachnoid space. Both patients responded well to resection of the arachnoid web. Arachnoid webs appear to be rare variants of arachnoid cysts and should be suspected in patients with focal compression of the thoracic spinal cord.

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