Rathke's cleft cyst

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A Rathke's cleft cyst is a benign growth found on the pituitary gland in the brain, specifically a fluid-filled cyst in the posterior portion of the anterior pituitary gland.[1][2] It occurs when the Rathke's pouch does not develop properly and ranges in size from 2 to 40mm in diameter.[2]

Asymptomatic cysts are commonly detected during autopsies in 2 to 26 percent of individuals who have died of unrelated causes. Females are twice as likely as males to develop a cyst.[2] If a cyst adds pressure to the optic chiasm, it may cause visual disturbances, pituitary dysfunction, and headaches.[1] The majority of pituitary patients with chronic headaches have Rathke's Cleft Cysts. This is believed to be caused by the constant change in volume and the drastic changes in vasopressure from fluctuations in gonadotrophs and ADH.[3]

Symptoms vary greatly between individuals. RCCs can be non-functioning, functioning, or both. Besides headaches, neurocognitive deficits are almost always present, but have high rate of immediate reversal if cyst is properly treated by being drained. They will eventually rupture if not addressed. Patients report attacks of violent headache radiating down the back of their neck.

The treatment of choice for symptomatic cysts is drainage and taking a biopsy.[4][5] Radical excision is more dangerous because of the potential of damaging the patient's pituitary function e.g. ADH storage and lowering growth hormone production.


  1. ^ a b "Rathke's Cleft Cyst". UCLA. Archived from the original on 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  2. ^ a b c Omar Islam (2008-05-28). "Rathke Cleft Cyst: Overview". Web MD. Archived from the original on 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  3. ^ Arman Jahangiri; Jeffrey R. Wagner; Aaron T. Chin; Sung Won Han; Mai T. Tran; Liane M. Miller; Maxwell W. Tom; Rebecca Chen; Sandeep Kunwar; Lewis Blevins; Manish K. Aghi, "Incidence of headache as a presenting complaint in over 1,000 patients with sellar lesions and factors predicting postoperative improvement", Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, 132 (May 2015): 16–20, doi:10.1016/j.clineuro.2015.02.006 
  4. ^ Omar Islam (2008-05-28). "Rathke Cleft Cyst: Follow-up". Web MD. Archived from the original on 2009-09-24. 
  5. ^ Marcella Koch; Benjamin White; Kar-Ming Fung (2004-02-30). "A 45-year-old man with a sellar mass". Department of Pathology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Archived from the original on 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2015-05-10.  Check date values in: |date= (help)