Endonasal management of sellar arachnoid cysts: Simple cyst obliteration technique - Technical note

Nancy McLaughlin, Alexander Vandergrift, Leo F. Ditzel Filho, Kiarash Shahlaie, Amalia A. Eisenberg, Ricardo L. Carrau, Pejman Cohan, Daniel F. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Object. Symptomatic sellar arachnoid cysts (ACs) have typically been treated via the transsphenoidal route. After sellar cyst wall fenestration, some authors have advocated cyst wall resection and increasing communication between the AC and suprasellar subarachnoid space (SAS). This study is a report of the authors' experience using a simplified approach to reinforce a defective diaphragma sellae or unseen arachnoid diverticulum by deliberately not enlarging the AC-SAS communication and obliterating the cyst cavity with adipose tissue followed by skull base reconstruction. Methods. A retrospective analysis was conducted of patients who underwent an endonasal transsphenoidal obliteration of symptomatic ACs with a fat graft and skull base repair. Results. Between July 1998 and September 2010, 8 patients with a sellar AC were identified (6 women and 2 men, mean age 57 years). Clinical presentation included headache, pituitary dysfunction, and visual dysfunction (4 patients each group). Maximal cyst diameter averaged 22 mm (range 15-32 mm). In all cases the sellar communication to the SAS was deliberately not enlarged. The endoscope was used for visualization in 8 of 9 procedures. Postoperatively, headache improved in all 4 patients, vision in all 4 patients, and partial resolution of endocrine dysfunction (hyperprolactinemia and/or recurrent hyponatremia) occurred in 3 (75%) of 4 patients. No new endocrinopathy, CSF leak, meningitis, or neurological deficits occurred. Two patients experienced cyst reaccumulation: 1 symptomatic recurrence was treated with reoperation at 43 months postsurgery, and 1 asymptomatic partial recurrence continued to be monitored at 29 months postsurgery. Conclusions. Sellar ACs can be effectively treated using endonasal fenestration and obliteration with fat with resultant reversal of presenting symptoms in the majority of patients. This simplified technique of AC cavity obliteration without enlarging communication to the SAS has a low risk of CSF leakage, and in most cases appears to effectively disrupt cyst progression, although longer follow-up is required to monitor for cyst recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-740
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Arachnoid cyst
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
  • Endonasal surgery
  • Endoscope
  • Sella turcica
  • Skull base
  • Subarachnoid space
  • Transsphenoidal surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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