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Brain, Nervous System and Mental Conditions

Arachnoid Cyst

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An arachnoid cyst sometimes will cause no symptoms. If this is the case for your child, the doctor may just watch the cyst to make sure it doesn't change size.

If a cyst is causing problems like headaches, nausea, vomiting, changes in activity or trouble with vision and balance, your child may need a procedure to remove the cyst.

Arachnoid Cyst Treatment Options

Due to the nature of arachnoid cysts, doctors cannot simply cut them out. Depending on your child's needs, the neurosurgeon will recommend one of two types of procedures to remove the arachnoid cyst.

Open the cyst (fenestration)

Your child's neurosurgeon makes a small cut (incision) near the location of the arachnoid cyst. Then the neurosurgeon puts a small, flexible tube called an endoscope through the incision. The endoscope has a tiny light and a camera that allows the neurosurgeon to see the arachnoid cyst. The neurosurgeon also can use the endoscope to make a hole in the cyst and open it up.

Once the arachnoid cyst has been opened, the fluid inside drains into other areas of the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid. Your child's body reabsorbs the fluid from the cyst.

Put a shunt into the cyst

A shunt is a tiny tube (catheter) that drains cerebrospinal fluid from one place in the body to another. Learn more about shunts.

During this procedure, your child's neurosurgeon makes a small cut near the location of the arachnoid cyst. Then, the neurosurgeon places the shunt in the arachnoid cyst. The shunt drains the fluid in the cyst into another part of your child’s body, like the belly (abdomen). Once the fluid is in the belly, your child's body reabsorbs it.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

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Download Summer 2014 (PDF)