Object. To determine the natural history of colloid cysts of the third ventricle in patients in whom the cysts were incidentally discovered, the authors retrospectively reviewed cases observed during the modern neuroimaging era (1974–1998).
Methods. During this 25-year interval, 162 patients with colloid cysts were examined and cared for at our center. Sixty-eight patients (42%) were thought to be asymptomatic with regard to their colloid cyst and observation with serial neuroimaging was recommended. The mean patient age was 57 years at the time of diagnosis (range 7–88 years) and the mean cyst size was 8 mm (range 4–18 mm). Computerized tomography scanning revealed a hyperdense cyst in 49 (84%) of 58 patients. Three patients were excluded from the study because they died of unrelated causes within 6 months of scanning and seven patients were lost to follow-up review. Clinical follow-up evaluation was available at a mean of 79 months (range 7–268 months) in the remaining 58 patients. The numbers of patients who participated in follow-up review at 2, 5, and 10 years after diagnosis were 40, 28, and 14, respectively. The incidences of symptomatic progression related to the cyst were 0%, 0%, and 8% at 2, 5, and 10 years, respectively. No patient died suddenly during the follow-up interval. Two (6%) of 34 patients in whom follow-up imaging was performed either exhibited cyst growth (one patient) or experienced hydrocephalus (one patient) at a mean of 41 months after diagnosis (range 4–160 months).
Conclusions. Patients in whom asymptomatic colloid cysts are diagnosed can be cared for safely with observation and serial neuroimaging. If a patient becomes symptomatic, the cyst enlarges, or hydrocephalus develops, prompt neurosurgical intervention is necessary to prevent the occurrence of neurological decline from these benign tumors.