Brain Cysts


A brain cyst is a sac filled with fluid-like material. Brain cysts are typically congenital (present before birth). Brain cysts include:

  • Epidermoid cysts, also called epidermoid tumors or epidermoids
  • Dermoid cysts, also called dermoid tumors or dermoids
  • Arachnoid cysts
  • Dandy Walker cyst (malformation)
  • Pineal cysts which are benign cysts that develop in the area of the pineal gland deep in the brain. Treatment is very rarely needed.
  • Porencephalic cyst or cavity This is a cyst or cavity in the brain that is filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It usually develops from a vascular accident (stroke or hemorrhage) that occurs before or shortly after birth. It may also result from damage to the newborn brain caused by infection or trauma. Rarely, it can be due to an inherited abnormality during development.

Other types of cysts can also occur in the brain. These may be associated with benign or malignant (cancerous) tumors.

Signs and Symptoms

Cysts in the brain may not produce symptoms and might be found by chance. If symptoms are associated with a cyst, they are generally related to its type, size and location.


Imaging tests that diagnose brain cysts include: computed tomography ( CT ), magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) scans or cranial ultrasound . The ultrasound is used primarily in babies who have an open fontanelle (soft spot).

Treatment Options

Treatment recommendations are based on the type of cyst and symptoms. Options can include:


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