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Keywords:

  • arachnoid cysts;
  • craniopharyngioma;
  • cysticercosis;
  • epithelial cysts;
  • toxoplasmosis

A diverse variety of benign cysts exist in the CNS. Advances in diagnostic radiology have facilitated diagnoses and surgical intervention in many patients with CNS cysts. However, a fundamental understanding of the pathological features of these lesions is clinically vital. From an etiological point of view, the cysts can be divided into two groups. The first includes lesions that arise from within the CNS and may be static structures such as cavities arising from infarcts and other destructive processes while other lesions such as arachnoid cysts, ependymal cysts, cystic hemangioblastoma, cystic cerebellar astrocytoma and infectious processes, are progressive. The second group of cysts arise from the intrusion of non-nervous system tissue into the neuroaxis and are usually midline. They are frequently expanding congenital lesions although some become symptomatic only in adults. Examples include teratomas, dermoid cysts, epidermoid cysts, craniopharyngiomas, Rathke's cleft cysts, and other epithelial cysts presumably derived from the upper respiratory or intestinal tract. Chick embryos exposed to lead have been used as a model of cyst formation.