Cross-over: a generalizable phenomenon necessary for secondary intraneural ganglion cyst formation

Robert J Spinner, Kimberly K Amrami, Huan Wang, Michel Kliot, Stephen W Carmichael
Clinical Anatomy 2008, 21 (2): 111-8
The appearances of intraneural ganglion cysts are being elucidated. We previously introduced the cross-over phenomenon to explain how a fibular (peroneal) or tibial intraneural ganglion cyst arising from the superior tibiofibular joint could give rise to multiple cysts: cyst fluid ascending up the primarily affected nerve could reach the level of the sciatic nerve, fill its common epineurial sheath and spread circumferentially (cross over), at which time pressure fluxes could result in further ascent up the sciatic or descent down the same parent nerve or the opposite, previously unaffected fibular or tibial nerves. In this study, we hypothesized that cross-over could occur in other nerves, potentially leading to the formation of more than one intraneural ganglion cyst in such situations. We analyzed the literature and identified a single case that we could review where proximal extension of an intraneural ganglion cyst involving a nerve at a different site could theoretically undergo cross-over in another major nerve large enough for available magnetic resonance images to resolve this finding. A case of a suprascapular intraneural ganglion cyst previously reported by our group that arose from the glenohumeral joint and extended to the neck was reanalyzed for the presence or absence of cross-over. An injection of dye into the outer epineurium of the suprascapular nerve in a fresh cadaveric specimen was performed to test for cross-over experimentally. Retrospective review of this case of suprascapular intraneural ganglion cyst demonstrated evidence to support previously unrecognized cross-over at the level of the upper trunk, with predominant ascent up the C5 and the C6 nerve roots and subtle descent down the anterior and posterior divisions of the upper trunk as well as the proximal portion of the suprascapular nerve. This appearance gave rise to multiple interconnected intraneural ganglion cysts arising from a single distant connection to the glenohumeral joint. The injection study also demonstrated the cross-over phenomenon and produced a similar pattern as the cyst dissection. This article illustrates that cross-over can occur in another nerve (apart from the prototype fibular nerve). Furthermore, understanding the more complex anatomic nature of the upper trunk cross-over model provides insight into important mechanistic information regarding the bidirectional propagation patterns and formation of primary and secondary intraneural ganglion cysts not afforded by the previously described sciatic nerve cross-over model.

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