A population-based study of intracranial arachnoid cysts: clinical and neuroimaging outcomes following surgical cyst decompression in children

Christian A. Helland M.D.1 and Knut Wester M.D., Ph.D.1
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  • 1 Section for Neurosurgery, Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Bergen; and Department of Neurosurgery, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway
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Object

If, when, and how children with arachnoid cysts should undergo surgery has been a matter of debate. In the present study the authors describe long-term clinical and neuroimaging results in children with intracranial arachnoid cysts, treated in accordance with the authors’ policy of performing surgery in most of these cases.

Methods

The study included 48 pediatric patients (age < 16 years of age) who underwent surgery for treatment of an arachnoid cyst at Haukeland University Hospital between January 1987 and September 2004. Forty-one patients underwent cyst fenestration to the basal cisterns and posterior fossa. Long-term results were assessed retrospectively on the basis of medical and neuroimaging records. Additional information was obtained by means of a check-box questionnaire completed by the patients and their parents.

At their follow-up examinations, 82% of the patients had no or insignificant complaints, 14% reported no improvement, and 4% noted a worsening of symptoms. In 56% of the patients with appropriate imaging for analysis, the cyst was no longer visible on neuroimaging studies. In 23%, the postoperative fluid volume was reduced to less than 50% of the original cyst volume, and in another 19%, the volume was reduced but was larger than 50% of the original. The cyst was unchanged in only 2%. There was a significant association between a volume reduction greater than 50% and clinical improvement. Three patients (6%), all with temporal cysts, had minor complications that led to additional surgery in one patient. No complications caused permanent disability. Eight patients (17%) underwent additional surgery due to suspected or demonstrated treatment failure.

Conclusions

Most children who underwent cyst fenestration via a craniotomy experienced a good long-term outcome with no severe complications.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

COG = clinical outcome group; CP = cystoperitoneal; GAT 1 = glutaric aciduria type 1; ICD = International Classification of Diseases; NOG = neuroimaging outcome group; VP = ventriculoperitoneal.

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