Recurrent Rathke's Cleft cysts: Incidence and surgical management in a tertiary pituitary center over 2 decades

Michelle A. Wedemeyer, Michelle Lin, Vance L. Fredrickson, Anush Arakelyan, Daniel Bradley, Daniel A. Donoho, Kyle M. Hurth, Martin H. Weiss, John D. Carmichael, Gabriel Zada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Limited data exist pertaining to outcomes following surgery for recurrent Rathke's cleft cysts (RCC). OBJECTIVE: To determine treatment outcomes in patients undergoing reoperation for recurrent or residual RCCs. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of 112 consecutive RCC operations in 109 patients between 1995 and 2017 was conducted. RESULTS: Eighteen patients underwent 21 RCC reoperations with a mean follow-up of 58 mo. Patient symptoms prior to reoperation included headaches (14, 66.7%) and vision loss (12, 57.1%). Thirteen of 18 patients (72.2%) required hormone supplementation prior to reoperation including 5 with diabetes insipidus (DI). Mean RCC diameter was 16 mm and 76% had suprasellar extension. Compared to index RCC cases, intraoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak repair was more common in reoperation cases (15/21, 71% vs 43/91, 47%, P = .05). There was 1 carotid artery injury without neurological sequelae, and 2 postoperative cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks (9.5%). Rates of transient hyponatremia (3/10, 30% vs 4/91, 4.4%, P=.04) and transient DI (5/10, 50% vs 17/91, 18.7%, P=.04) were higher in the reoperation vs index group. Improved headaches and vision were reported in 4/12 (33%) and 8/12 (61.5%) of RCC reoperation patients, respectively. Two patients developed new permanent DI. A higher proportion of reoperation patients had RCC squamous metaplasia (24% vs 5.4%, P = .02) or wall inflammation (42.9% vs 2.2%, P < .001) on pathological examination. CONCLUSION: Reoperation for RCCs is generally safe at tertiary pituitary centers and often results in improved vision. Hypopituitarism is less likely to improve following reoperation for recurrent RCCs. Several histopathological featuresmay help characterize "atypical RCCs" with a higher likelihood of recurrence/progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-684
Number of pages10
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Complications
  • Endoscopic endonasal approach
  • Microsurgery
  • Rathke's cleft cyst
  • Recurrence
  • Transsphenoidal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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