How can we help you?
Schedule anappointment >
Ask a question >
Request our expertopinion >
1-877-986-9862(within the U.S.)
After being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain cyst, this high school senior and her family turned to the experts at UPMC for treatment.
Read more »
A Rathke's cleft cyst is a rare type of cyst believed to originate from remnants of the Rathke pouch. During embryonic development, the Rathke pouch forms as a depression in the roof of the mouth, eventually losing its connection to the pharynx and giving rise to the anterior pituitary gland.
If instead of regressing the cleft persists and enlarges, it may form into a Rathke's cleft cyst. Most of these cysts are:
In some instances, continual accumulation of fluid may cause the cyst to grow. As it grows it places pressure on surrounding structures, including:
This pressure results in associated symptoms of Rathke's cleft cysts.
Rathke's cleft cysts are very similar in presentation and origin to craniopharyngiomas. The difference is that craniopharyngiomas grow by cell division and fluid accumulation, whereas Rathke's cleft cysts grow only by fluid accumulation.
At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for Rathke's cleft cyst is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include:
To diagnose a Rathke's cleft cyst, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms as they relate to a positive Rathke's cleft cyst diagnosis.
Many Rathke's cleft cysts are asymptomatic, which means they do not cause any symptoms.
As the cysts get larger, they may press on a surrounding structure. Symptoms associated with compression include:
Imaging studies such as MRI and CT scans can detect the presence of a mass and show its cystic character however, MRI and CT scans are insufficient for a positive Rathke's cleft cyst diagnosis.
Additional tests must be performed to help rule out other possible diagnoses, such as:
A correct diagnosis is particularly important for Rathke's cleft cysts because the treatment differs from that of other possible lesions.
The diagnosis is confirmed by a sample of the cystic capsule that is sent to pathological analysis during surgical drainage of the cyst.
For asymptomatic Rathke's cleft cysts, long-term observation by a doctor may be sufficient. Based on the specific nature of the patient's Rathke's cleft cyst, treatment may require surgical drainage and/or removal.
Rathke's cleft cysts may be approached directly using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This state-of-the-art, minimally invasive approach allows surgeons to access the cyst through the natural corridor of the nose, without making an open incision. Surgeons then remove the cyst through the nose and nasal cavities.
EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement, and a faster recovery time.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com