Neurol India Home 

Year : 2014  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 704--708

Non-terminal cervical myelocystocele: Unusual cause of spastic quadriparesis in an adult

Amol Raheja1, Deepak Kumar Gupta1, Aasma Nalwa2, Vaishali Suri2, Bhawani Shankar Sharma1,  
1 Department of Neurosurgery and Gamma Knife, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Deepak Kumar Gupta
Department of Neurosurgery and Gamma Knife, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi

How to cite this article:
Raheja A, Gupta DK, Nalwa A, Suri V, Sharma BS. Non-terminal cervical myelocystocele: Unusual cause of spastic quadriparesis in an adult.Neurol India 2014;62:704-708

How to cite this URL:
Raheja A, Gupta DK, Nalwa A, Suri V, Sharma BS. Non-terminal cervical myelocystocele: Unusual cause of spastic quadriparesis in an adult. Neurol India [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jan 19 ];62:704-708
Available from:

Full Text


Terminal and non-terminal variants of myelocystocele are divided on anatomic location and postulated hypothesis of origin. [1],[2] Former is a disorder of retrogressive differentiation (secondary neurulation) compared to limited dorsal myeloschisis (primary neurulation) in latter. [1],[3] To the best of author's knowledge, till date only 38 cases of non-terminal myelocystocele (NTM or equivalent pathology) [1],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14] have been published in literature [Table 1] with most common age of presentation being neonates and infants.{Table 1}

We present a unique case of cervical NTM in a 42-year-old male who presented with progressive spastic ascending quadriparesis (power 4/5 below C6 myotome), decreased sensation (below C6 dermatome) for two years, and upper motor neuron type bowel and bladder dysfunction for eight months. Local examination revealed 5 × 4 × 3 cm midline non-tender cystic saccular skin covered lesion with dysplastic skin in midline along with hypertrichosis and positive fluctuation test [Figure 1]a. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of craniospinal axis revealed arrested hydrocephalus, mild type I Arnold-Chiari malformation II [3] (ACM II) with cerebellar tissue pegging through foramen magnum, fused C6/7 and D1/2 vertebrae, spina bifida defect at C6-C7 level, tenting of open-book configuration spinal cord at C6-C7 level with posteriorly tethered cystic dilation continuous with hydromyelic cavity, attached to dome of cystic meningocele lying below intact skin [Figure 1]b-d. Abnormal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow dynamics are seen in dilated sub-arachnoid space ventral to cord at the level of cord tethering along with syrinx cranially. Dorsally central canal is open and continuous with ependymal lined cyst tethered to dysplastic skin dorsally. Radiological diagnosis of NTM (Rossi type B) [3] was made. Intra-operatively fused posterior elements of C6/7 with a midline spina bifida defect was seen with dural sac meningocele containing ependymal lined and extending intra-spinally to invest on dorsal aspect of spinal cord and communicating with dilated central canal [Figure 2]. Complete excision of tethering band and intra-spinal adhesiolysis was done to release cord adequately. Histopathological examination revealed microscopic nests of glial tissue along with adipose tissue in a fibro-collagenous background confirming the diagnosis of myelocystocele [Figure 3]. Patient had a clinical improvement from neurological grade three to two post-operatively (as classified by Pang et al.), [12] which remained stable till last follow up at six months. Interval MRI done after three months was suggestive of stable ventricular size, reduction of CSF space ventral to cord with improved flow dynamics and evidence of detethered spinal cord with non-progression of syrinx and ACM II [Figure 4].{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}

Myelocystocele is a rare variant of closed spinal dysraphism characterized by skin covered mass located posteriorly in midline, narrow spina bifida defect, cerebrospinal fluid cyst, expanded dural sheath with varying amounts of dorsal fat continuous with sub-cutaneous fat. [15] Though no proven genetic basis exists, it has been associated with intrauterine exposure to retinoic acid, [16] loperamide [17] and hydantoin. [18] Developmental origin of NTM is hypothesized by limited dorsal myeloschisis leading to delayed disjunction of ectoderm and neuro-ectoderm in final stages of primary neurulation, thereby leaving small defect in midline. [1],[3] Surrounding mesenchyme and ectodermal elements overgrow and cover this small defect, leaving on small part of dorsal cord tissue connected to skin in form of either well formed myelocystocele (complete variant, Rossi type B, myelocystocele, limited dorsal myeloschisis with saccular myelocystocele and myelocystocele consisting of a second ependymal lined cyst herniated inside a meningocele) or neuro-fibro-vascular band (abortive variant, Rossi type A, fibroneurovascular stalk, limited dorsal myeloschisis with stalk and cystic spinal dysraphism with neuro-glial stalk) based on classification given by Rossi et al., [3] Habibi et al., [19] Pang et al. [12] and Salamao et al., [20] respectively.

Severity of symptoms is unrelated to location of lesion but probably increases with increasing age. [12] Surgical strategy aims at excision, intra-dural exploration and complete detethering for optimal outcome, with poor neurological outcome associated when only extra-dural excision is undertaken. [21] The index case ponders us to acknowledge that such lesions may remain asymptomatic for major part of adult life but eventually are bound to cause symptoms due to tethering of cord posteriorly, affirming an important proposition in natural history of such lesions. Intra-dural exploration with release of arachnoidal bands and fibrous adhesions between two split cords along with excision of sac was associated with radiological non-progression of syrinx, improved CSF flow dynamics ventrally and optimal outcome in short-term follow up, confirming the cause-effect relationship and emphasizing on the same as the primary surgical strategy. Oldest age of NTM at presentation is unique to the present study, with only other adulthood presentations of cervical cystic closed spinal dysraphisms being either CSF containing meningocele or rudimentary meningocele with absence of true ependymal-lined myelocele. [22],[23],[24],[25]


1Muthukumar N. Terminal and nonterminal myelocystoceles. J Neurosurg 2007;107:87-97.
2Gupta DK, Mahapatra AK. Terminal myelocystoceles: A series of 17 cases. J Neurosurg 2005;103:344-52.
3Rossi A, Piatelli G, Gandolfo C, Pavanello M, Hoffmann C, Van Goethem JW, et al. Spectrum of nonterminal myelocystoceles. Neurosurgery 2006;58:509-15; discussion 509-15.
4Bhargava R, Hammond DI, Benzie RJ, Carlos E, Ventureyra G, Higgins MJ, et al. Prenatal demonstration of a cervical myelocystocele. Prenat Diagn 1992;12:653-9.
5Carmody RB, Jane J Jr, Shaffrey ME, Kaufman D. Complete thoracic myelocystocele: A rare benign spinal dysraphism with clinical significance. Arch Dis Child 2012;97:241-2.
6Chandra RV, Kumar PM. Cervical myelocystocele: Case report and review of literature. J Pediatr Neurosci 2011;6:55-7.
7Gressot LV, Mohila CA, Jea A, Luerssen TG, Bollo RJ. Cervicothoracic nonterminal myelocystocele with mature teratoma. J Neurosurg Pediatr 2014;13:204-8.
8Khandelwal A, Tandon V, Mahapatra AK. An unusual case of 4 level spinal dysraphism: Multiple composite type 1 and type 2 split cord malformation, dorsal myelocystocele and hydrocephalous. J Pediatr Neurosci 2011;6:58-61.
9Klein O, Coulomb MA, Ternier J, Lena G. Cervical myelocystocele: Prenatal diagnosis and therapeutical considerations. Childs Nerv Syst 2009;25:523-6.
10Nishino A, Shirane R, So K, Arai H, Suzuki H, Sakurai Y. Cervical myelocystocele with chiari ii malformation: Magnetic resonance imaging and surgical treatment. Surg Neurol 1998;49:269-73.
11Ochiai H, Kawano H, Miyaoka R, Nagano R, Kohno K, Nishiguchi T, et al. Cervical (non-terminal) myelocystocele associated with rapidly progressive hydrocephalus and chiari type ii malformation--case report. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo) 2010;50:174-7.
12Pang D, Zovickian J, Oviedo A, Moes GS. Limited dorsal myeloschisis. A distinctive clinicopathological entity. Neurosurgery 2010;67:1555-79; discussion 1579-80.
13Steinbok P, Cochrane DD. The nature of congenital posterior cervical or cervicothoracic midline cutaneous mass lesions. Report of eight cases. J Neurosurg 1991;75:206-12.
14Suneson A, Kalimo H. Myelocystocele with cerebellar heterotopia. Case report. J Neurosurg 1979;51:392-6.
15McLone DG, Naidich TP. Terminal myelocystocele. Neurosurgery 1985;16:36-43.
16Tibbles L, Wiley MJ. A comparative study of the effects of retinoic acid given during the critical period for inducing spina bifida in mice and hamsters. Teratology 1988;37:113-25.
17Schmitt HP, Kawakami M. Unusual split of the spinal cord in a caudal regression syndrome with myelocystocele. Brain Dev 1982;4:469-74.
18Carey JC, Greenbaum B, Hall BD. The OEIS complex (omphalocele, exstrophy, imperforate anus, spinal defects). Birth Defects Orig Artic Ser 1978;14:253-63.
19Habibi Z, Nejat F, Tajik P, Kazmi SS, Kajbafzadeh AM. Cervical myelomeningocele. Neurosurgery 2006;58:1168-75; discussion 1168-75.
20Salomao JF, Cavalheiro S, Matushita H, Leibinger RD, Bellas AR, Vanazzi E, et al. Cystic spinal dysraphism of the cervical and upper thoracic region. Childs Nerv Syst 2006;22:234-42.
21Pang D, Dias MS. Cervical myelomeningoceles. Neurosurgery 1993;33:363-72.
22Denaro L, Padoan A, Manara R, Gardiman M, Ciccarino P, d′Avella D. Cervical myelomeningocele in adulthood: Case report. Neurosurgery 2008;62:E1169-71.
23Duz B, Arslan E, Gonul E. Cervical congenital midline meningoceles in adults. Neurosurgery 2008;63:938-44.
24Wang H, Yu W, Zhang Z, Lu Y, Li X. Cervical rudimentary meningocele in adulthood. J Neurosurg Spine 2013;18:511-4.
25Konya D, Dagcinar A, Akakin A, Gercek A, Ozgen S, Pamir MN. Cervical meningocele causing symptoms in adulthood: Case report and review of the literature. J Spinal Disord Tech 2006;19:531-3.