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Rathke Cleft Cyst

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Surgery for a Rathke Cleft Cyst

The specialists at the Pituitary and Neuroendocrine Program at Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center are highly skilled in the most advanced procedures for treating Rathke cleft cysts. Our relationship with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital allows our doctors and surgeons access to the very best facilities and specialists, as well as the most leading-edge research laboratories, to ensure that you get the very best treatment available. 

To treat Rathke cleft cysts, our neurosurgeons prefer a minimally invasive technique, which uses a patient’s nasal cavities to gain access to the cyst.  This innovative surgery means faster recovery time, no incisions, and no disfigurement. The Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center’s Skull Base Surgery Program is headed by Dr. Theodore Schwartz, an internationally known expert in endonasal endoscopic surgical techniques in which even large cysts can be removed through the nostrils, with no incisions and no scarring.

Symptoms usually resolve quickly after surgical treatment of a Rathke cleft cyst, including resolution of visual field problems, headaches, and symptoms related to compression of other structures, such as the pituitary gland.

Patients are screened after surgery to confirm that the hormonal abnormalities have been resolved, and to watch for possible development of new abnormalities after surgery (such as hypopituitarism or diabetes insipidus). Follow-up care is overseen by a neuroendocrinologist, who will develop a plan for medical/hormonal management specifically for each patient. Continued observation with regular MRI scans is recommended, as well as monitoring for any signs or symptoms that may indicate recurrence. Up to 30 percent of patients may experience a recurrence of the Rathke cleft cyst, usually within five or six years of the original surgery.

Reviewed by Georgiana Dobri, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: September 2017