Patients with symptomatic Rathke's cleft cysts (RCCs) managed by surgical treatment often experience recurrence. The authors attempted to clarify the outcome of surgically treated RCCs over a long-term follow-up period.
Ninety-one consecutive RCC patients with a follow-up period of more than 12 months (mean 80.2 months, range 12–297 months) were retrospectively studied. The authors examined the clinical features and postoperative course of patients who experienced a reaccumulation of cyst contents visible on MRI after the initial surgery, and they investigated data from the patients who underwent reoperation for symptomatic recurrent RCCs.
Reaccumulation of cyst contents occurred in 36 patients (39.6%). In 34 of these patients, a reaccumulation occurred in the first 5 years after surgery. The initial cysts in these patients were most often large, with squamous metaplasia in the cyst walls. Thirteen patients (14.3%) with recurrent symptoms underwent a reoperation, and 10 of the 13 patients had a reaccumulation of RCCs within the 1st year after surgery. The reoperations were performed in the 1st year (61.5%) or several years later (23.1%). Patients were likely to initially have had a visual disturbance and the cyst walls likely included squamous metaplasia. However, no association was observed between the incidence of reaccumulation/reoperation of RCCs and the surgical procedure for RCCs.
The reaccumulation rate of RCC is high in the long-term period, and it is associated with the histological findings but not with the surgical procedure. Long-term monitoring, for a period of at least 5 years, should therefore be conducted to identify and assess any RCC reaccumulation.