Rathke’s cleft cysts are a rare type of benign growth that develops near the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland features an anterior and posterior section, and the place where these two sections meet is called the Rathke’s pouch. This pouch generally goes away during early fetal development, but in rare cases, it remains. When this happens, the cleft can fill with fluid and a cyst can develop.
How is a Rathke’s cleft cyst diagnosed?
For many patients, Rathke’s cleft cysts are found during an MRI to diagnose another health condition. While these patients were born with this brain cyst, they often do not experience any symptoms related to the condition until later in adulthood. And, those symptoms can often be confused for other conditions. Possible symptoms include headaches, fatigue, vision changes, nausea and hormone changes.
How are Rathke’s cleft cysts treated?
Treatment depends on the individual. Most physicians recommend monitoring the cyst if it is small and not causing disruptive symptoms. If the cyst is larger and interfering with a patient’s daily life, surgery to drain and remove the cyst is a common course of action.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to treating Rathke’s cleft cysts
At Moffitt Cancer Center, delivering individualized treatment to our patients is the backbone of everything we do. You’ll have a multispecialty team guiding your treatment every step of the way, starting at diagnosis. The specialists within our Neuro-Oncology Program will take your unique needs and genetic makeup into account when developing your treatment plan. Our cancer center stands at the forefront of research and advanced therapies, allowing us to provide a comprehensive range of services for our patients, including clinical trials.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.