Endoscopy versus microsurgical cyst excision and shunting for treating intracranial arachnoid cysts

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Endoscopic surgery is routinely used to treat intracranial arachnoid cysts. However, the indications and results with respect to the different cyst locations, compared with those of microsurgical fenestration and cyst shunting, deserve to be discussed.


The authors review 18 patients with intracranial arachnoid cysts treated by pure endoscopic technique in their neurosurgical department. There were 10 male and 8 female patients ranging in age from 2 months to 48 years (median age 19.4 years). The cyst location was suprasellar in 5 cases, quadrigeminal in 5, cortical hemispheric in 2, sylvian region in 3, and posterior fossa in 3. The authors also reviewed the literature, comprising 61 reports for an overall number of 645 patients with intracranial arachnoid cysts treated by different surgical techniques. These techniques included microsurgical excision or fenestration by craniotomy, cyst shunting, and endoscopic fenestration. The surgical results of the different techniques according to the different cyst locations underwent statistical analysis.


The overall success rate (complete or partial clinical remission) in the authors' endoscopic series was 83.3% (15 of 18 cases), which is rather similar to that of 222 patients treated endoscopically and reported on in the literature (84.2%). In the overall endoscopic group, a higher success rate was found for cysts in the suprasellar (89.7%), quadrigeminal (88.5%), and posterior cranial fossa (83.3%) regions compared with sylvian (70%) and cortical and interhemispheric (75%) regions. The statistical comparison of the results of the endoscopic series with those of craniotomy and shunting revealed no significant differences for suprasellar, quadrigeminal, or posterior cranial fossa cysts, whereas the success rate of endoscopy is lower than that of other techniques for sylvian and cortical cysts.


Endoscopy is a safe and effective therapeutic modality for patients with intracranial arachnoid cysts. Cysts of the suprasellar and quadrigeminal regions and posterior fossa are the best indications for neuroendoscopy; on the other hand, cortical cysts are best treated by microsurgical fenestration or shunting. For sylvian cysts, the endoscopic procedure may be advocated in most cases.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: Michelangelo Gangemi, M.D., Divisione di Neurochirurgia Ed.16, Policlinico Universitario “Federico II”, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy. email: mgangemi@unina.it.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.




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