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J Neurosurg. 2019 Nov 1:1-11. doi: 10.3171/2019.8.JNS191103. [Epub ahead of print]

Endoscopic endonasal cyst fenestration into the sphenoid sinus using the mucosa coupling method for symptomatic Rathke's cleft cyst: a novel method for maintaining cyst drainage to prevent recurrence.

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1Departments of Neurosurgery.
3Diagnostic Pathology, and.
4Diagnostic Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba; and.
5Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Tsukuba Medical Center Hospital, Ibaraki, Japan.



Rathke's cleft cyst (RCC) is a benign cystic lesion with a relatively high incidence of local recurrence that occasionally requires repeat surgery. To prevent recurrence, simple cyst fenestration and drainage of the cyst contents to the sphenoid sinus is recommended, but it occasionally recurs. The authors postulated that obstruction of fenestration is a main cause of recurrence, and they developed a method, named the "mucosa coupling method (MC method)," that maintains persistent drainage. In this method, the RCC epithelium and the mucosa of the sphenoid sinus are connected, which promotes re-epithelialization between the two epithelia, maintaining persistent drainage. The outcome of this method was compared with that of conventional cyst fenestration.


In a consecutive series of 40 patients with RCC, the surgical strategy was changed during the study period: from December 2009 to September 2014 (the conventional period), 24 patients were scheduled to be treated using the conventional fenestration method, whereas from September 2014 to September 2017 (the MC period), 16 patients were scheduled to be treated using the MC method. However, because of an intraoperative CSF leak, the fenestration was closed during surgery in 3 patients in the conventional period and 2 in the MC period; therefore, these 5 patients were excluded from the analysis. Twenty-one patients treated with the conventional fenestration method (conventional group) and 14 patients treated with the MC method (MC group) were analyzed. All patients regularly underwent MRI after surgery to detect reaccumulation of cyst contents. The rate of reaccumulation with and without reoperation, visual outcomes, endocrinological outcomes, and postoperative complications were compared between these two groups.


The median follow-up period in all 35 patients was 48.0 months (range 1-96 months), 54.0 months (range 1-96 months) in the conventional group and 35.5 months (range 12-51 months) in the MC group. No reaccumulation was detected on MRI in the 14 patients in the MC group, whereas it was noted in 9 (42.9%) of 21 patients in the conventional group, and 2 of these 9 patients required repeat surgery. There were no significant differences in visual and endocrinological outcomes and complications between these two groups.


The MC method for RCC is effective for preventing obstruction of cyst fenestration, which contributes to preventing cyst reaccumulation. Furthermore, this method is equivalent to the conventional fenestration method in terms of visual and endocrinological outcomes and the complication rate.


ACTH = adrenocorticotropic hormone; DI = diabetes insipidus; FSH = follicle-stimulating hormone; GH = growth hormone; IGF-1 = insulin-like growth factor 1; LH = luteinizing hormone; MC = mucosa coupling; PRL = prolactin; RCC = Rathke’s cleft cyst; Rathke’s cleft cyst; TSH = thyroid-stimulating hormone; VIS = visual impairment score; endoscopic endonasal surgery; marsupialization; pituitary surgery; recurrence; surgical outcomes


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