Arachnoid Cysts in Children | Treatments

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In general, most children with arachnoid cysts don't require any treatment.  On the rare occasions when the cysts are large enough to put excessive pressure on the surrounding brain, surgical treatment may be necessary to remove the cysts.

Neurosurgeons at Boston Children's Hospital have been leaders in pursuing minimally invasive surgery, an approach that is far less traumatic than traditional surgery.  Using smaller and more precise instruments, means smaller incisions, quicker recovery, and fewer side effects. 

Overall, the goal of treating arachnoid cysts is to decompress the cyst to relieve pressure on the brain. This can be done surgically by opening holes in the "bubble" of the cyst (fenestration) and letting it drain into the normal pathways that reabsorb spinal fluid. Depending on the size and location of the cyst, different techniques may be used, including:

  • a craniotomy - removing and replacing a small piece of the skull to get to the cyst
  • an endoscope - a small device that can be inserted within the cyst from a "minimally invasive" incision
  • shunt - inserting a tube into the cyst to drain them into another part of the body, such as the abdomen
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