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Children's Health

Brain Cysts

07/07/2010

Question:

my 18 year old son was diagnosed with a cyst deep in the right frontal lobe of his brain about 1 yr. ago. how concerned should we be and is this a dangerous situation cause he is not feeling well and has developed some other issues such as headaches severe leg and back pain.

Answer:

It is certainly worrisome for parents to know that their child has an intracranial cyst. Most such cysts, which are four times more likely in males than females, are present at birth and many never cause a problem. Those not present at birth result from intracranial infections, head injuries, or surgical procedures on the brain. Most cysts are an incidental finding when a child's brain is imaged following a head injury.

I do not know what the circumstances were that caused a cyst to be identified in your son. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website suggests that your son's symptoms may be the result of an enlargement in the cyst. The symptoms you describe are more often associated with spinal cysts than intracranial frontal lobe cysts but an enlarging mass certainly may cause headache and a variety of painful symptoms. I agree with you that he should return to the neurologist who diagnosed him for a follow-up evaluation given his new symptoms and their level of severity.

The preferred treatment for cysts at this time is to break the membrane enclosing the cyst and allow the fluid to drain into the cerebrospinal fluid circulation. An older surgical treatment was the placement of a shunt or tube that drains the cyst's fluid elsewhere in the body such as the abdomen.

I hope that your son is seen promptly and a quick resolution of his symptoms forthcoming. Good work being his advocate!

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University