What are Colloid Cysts?

T. M. Robertson
T. M. Robertson
Colloid cysts may be able to be removed through a non-invasive surgical procedure.
Colloid cysts may be able to be removed through a non-invasive surgical procedure.

Colloid cysts are benign tumors that form in the brain. The cysts consist of a jelly-like substance held together by connective tissues covered with cells. The exact cause for the formation of the cysts is not known. The primary symptoms associated with the cysts are headaches, increased drowsiness, nausea, weakness, memory disturbances and personality changes. Surgery is the recommended form of treatment in the majority of cases.

A doctor may use an MRI scan to diagnose colloid cysts.
A doctor may use an MRI scan to diagnose colloid cysts.

Although the makeup of colloid cysts is benign, the cysts are still problematic. When left untreated, the condition can be fatal. As the cyst grows in size, it can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. This blockage will then cause pressure to build in the rest of the brain. As the pressure builds, the head enlarges, and the brain compresses.

Weakness is a common symptom associated with colloid cysts.
Weakness is a common symptom associated with colloid cysts.

As a result of this increased cranial pressure, the patient often experiences side effects. Depending on the exact location and size of the colloid cysts, the patient might experience any or all of the following symptoms: headaches, increased drowsiness, nausea, weakness, memory disturbances and personality changes, just to name a few. Physicians can diagnose whether a patient has colloid cysts through a combination of the patient's reported symptoms and computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Surgery is considered a cure for colloid cysts, and the failure to remove the blockages can result in sudden death for the patient.

Nausea is one possible symptom of a colloid cyst.
Nausea is one possible symptom of a colloid cyst.

In the past, the extraction of colloid cysts was a risky procedure that involved performing a craniotomy. During a craniotomy, the surgeon would remove a portion of the skull to get to the cysts. With the advent of endoscopic neurosurgery, the surgical methods have drastically changed. During an endoscopic neurosurgery, the surgeon makes a small incision in the hairline and then inserts an endoscope. Suction catheters are then used to deplete the jelly-like substance in the cyst, the outer wall of the cyst is removed, and an electrical current is introduced to the region to destroy any remnants.

Colloid cysts often cause headaches.
Colloid cysts often cause headaches.

The surgical procedure to remove colloid cysts with an endoscope typically takes less than an hour to perform. Also, because the surgery is not considered invasive, patients who don't experience any complications can usually go home within a couple of days. Permanent scarring is minimal and consists of a short incision mark that's covered by the patient's hairline. Colloid cysts are rare and make up less than 1 percent of tumors that form in the brain. In addition, when the cysts have been fully extracted, recurrence rates are low.

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Discussion Comments

anon961961

"During an endoscopic neurosurgery, the surgeon makes a small incision in the hairline and then inserts an endoscope."

You make it sound as though they don't have to make a hole in the skull first! Overselling the non-invasiveness.

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    • Colloid cysts may be able to be removed through a non-invasive surgical procedure.
      Colloid cysts may be able to be removed through a non-invasive surgical procedure.
    • A doctor may use an MRI scan to diagnose colloid cysts.
      A doctor may use an MRI scan to diagnose colloid cysts.
    • Weakness is a common symptom associated with colloid cysts.
      Weakness is a common symptom associated with colloid cysts.
    • Nausea is one possible symptom of a colloid cyst.
      Nausea is one possible symptom of a colloid cyst.
    • Colloid cysts often cause headaches.
      Colloid cysts often cause headaches.