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J Endocrinol Invest. 2004 Nov;27(10):943-8.

Symptomatic Rathke's cleft cysts: a report of 24 cases.

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Division of Endocrinology, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA.


We review the clinical, hormonal and imaging features of 24 consecutive patients with symptomatic Rathke's cleft cysts (RCCs), and assess the long-term effectiveness and complications of transsphenoidal cyst removal. Out of 250 consecutive patients, 24 (10%) underwent endonasal transsphenoidal surgery for RCC; 19 (79%) were women. Symptoms at presentation included headaches (83%), hyperprolactinemia (38%), central hypothyroidism (21%), galactorrhea (13%), diabetes insipidus (13%), IGF-1 deficiency (13%), central adrenal insufficiency (8%) and visual loss (8%). In total, 37% of women had irregular menses and 60% of men sexual dysfunction and hypogonadism. Two girls presented with precocious puberty. Cyst size varied from 7 to 25 mm. Fifteen (60%) had a suprasellar component. Initial and 3-month post-operative imaging revealed complete cyst resection in 23 of 24 patients. Headaches resolved in 65% of subjects and visual loss resolved in both patients who presented with this symptom. Of those presenting with endocrinopathy, 56% had improvement of at least one anterior pituitary axis; two subjects (8%), both with suprasellar RCC, developed a new hormone deficiency post-operatively and two sujects young girls, (8%) had RCC recurrence, one at 36 months after surgery, requiring a second operation, and the other had a small asymptomatic recurrence 6 months after surgery. In conclusion, RCC accounts for 10 % of surgically treated sellar and suprasellar masses. Headache, hyperprolactinemia, menstrual irregularities and sexual dysfunction are common presenting symptoms. Simple cyst removal via a transsphenoidal approach offers a safe and effective treatment. Cyst recurrence may be more common in children.

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