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Cyst on the brain?
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Cyst on the brain?

My dad was recently told he has a cyst on the base of his brain.  The doctor couldn't tell him any other info, just suggested he see a neurologist.

He doesn't have any symptoms I've read about, it was coincidental as he was checking on his pituitary gland and they found the cyst.  

Are all cysts dangerous?  What percentage need to be surgically removed?  How dangerous is the surgery?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Several types of cysts occur in the brain. Not all cysts are dangerous, and not all cysts need to be removed.

One type of cyst is the arachnoid cyst. Our brain is covered by a layer of tissue called the meninges. This layer of tissue is made up of 3 layers, one of which is called the arachnoid. An arachnoid cyst is a developmental cyst that occurs in the arachnoid membrane. They can occur anywhere within the central nervous system (brain or spinal cord) but are most commonly found in the brain. Sometimes, more than one can be found in the same person.

The exact cause of arachnoid cysts is unclear, but the majority are thought to be developmental: occur as a human develops, present since birth. Secondary arachnoid cysts, cysts occurring from a particular reason, are much less common. They can occur after epidural anesthesia, overdrainage of CSF due to specific draining systems placed for various reasons, or spinal injury or surgery.

The symptoms of arachnoid cysts vary depending on their size and location. Most are present since birth. Most people don't cause any symptoms or problems. In most people, they are discovered incidentally, as was the case in your father. Care should be taken when attributing the patient's symptoms to the presence of the cyst. Symptoms that may be caused by arachnoid cysts (depending on their location and size) may include seizures, psychiatric problems,and headaches. Complications from cysts including bleeding (subdural bleeding), but this is not common.

Some cysts resolve spontaneously, but most arachnoid cysts remain the same size or increase in size only slightly in adulthood, and others fluctuate over time.

Asymptomatic arachnoid cysts identified incidentally probably should be left alone. In cases with epilepsy where the cyst appears to be under pressure, surgery should be considered, although it may not result in seizure control. The decision to operate is usually taken by a neurologist and/or neurosurgeon. If a cyst is determined to be causing symptoms or pressure in the head, it may be removed. I can not discuss with you the details of the neurosurgical procedures as this is not my area, but the procedures can often be done endoscopically (with the assistance of a small scope) and with stereotactic guidance (a technique that allows accurate localization), minimizing the invasiveness of the procedure and the complication rate.

Another type of cyst found in the brain is an ependymal cyst, which comes from a different type of tissue than arachnoid cysts but the same discussion holds true regarding the fact that they may be discovered incidentally and may not require intervention. However depending on their location they may cause a blockage of the flow of CSF (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) leading to increased pressure in the brain which may require surgical intervention.

Sometimes, tumors and other lesions in the brain such as infections can appear as cysts. The radiologic appearance of the cyst can give clues as to the cause.

Seeing a neurologist to further interpret the findings of your father's MRI is a good idea.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
3 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi

Its a good idea to have the cyst reviewed and monitored by a neurologist.  I have one in my pineal gland (beside the pituitary gland).  It affects my sleep and I have some other neuro issues that may or may not be related directly.  I have an annual MRI to monitor for growth.  

Although cysts are space occupying, they are generally considered benign.  Provided they do not develop spider web like invasion into other areas and remain rounded and well defined on MRI, as far as I am aware they tend to leave them alone and monitor over time.  Often they are considered incidental findings.  

UCLA website has good information, so visit there and get a list of Questions together, so you get all the info you want from the neuro visit.

Best wishes.

Fiona
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542293_tn?1242165149
First of all, my best wishes to you and your family.  It is scary to find out about any abnormality in the brain.

I, too, have a sub-arachnoid cyst in the back of my brain between the cerebellum and occipital lobe.  It is filled with CSF.  It was determined, at the time, that cutting a small piece of the cyst out, (known as fenestration), would help relieve symptoms.

Unfortunately, it didn't and, in fact, made them worse.  Ask questions, be a good advocate for medical care and find the best surgeons available if surgery is necessary.

My neurosurgeon was Dr. Mitchell Berger at UCSF.  He is the head of neurosurgery and head Professor at UCSF for neurosurgery.  He has a great bedside manner and doesn't "sugar-coat" the truth.
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A related discussion, help was started.
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I just found out I have a cyst on the brain. I'm going back to have a MRI of the brain. My head hurts in that area and has for about three months.I past out 2 weeks ago in the shower and   Ive had dizzy spells, vision issues where everything is blur. I thought maybe I need more water I'm not drinking enough during the day but that was not it. Should I go to the ER my appointment is not till next week and is this normal with a cyst. What type could this be? Also I've been sick at my stomach.
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A related discussion, Brain cyst was started.
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