Background: Intracranial dermoid cysts are rare congenital neoplasms that are believed to arise from ectopic cell rests incorporated in the closing neural tube. The rupture of an intracranial dermoid cyst is a relatively rare event that typically occurs spontaneously. In the past it was believed that rupture is always fatal, a hypothesis that is not supported by more recently reported cases. The symptoms associated with rupture vary from no symptoms to sudden death.
Methods: The present paper analyzes published cases of ruptured intracranial dermoid cysts in terms of their age profile and their clinical presentation and describes an additional case.
Results: Analysis of published cases revealed headache (14 out of 44 patients; 31.8%) and seizures (13 out of 44 patients; 29.5%), to be the most common signs of rupture followed by, often temporary, sensory or motor hemisyndrome (7 out of 44 patients; 15.9%), and chemical meningitis (3 out of 44 patients; 6.9%).
Conclusion: Headache occurred primarily in younger patients (mean age 23.5 +/- 9.3 years), whereas seizures primarily occurred in older patients (mean age 42.8 +/- 11.3 years). The patients with sensory or motor hemisyndrome associated with rupture of an intracranial dermoid cyst showed a more homogeneous age distribution (mean age 38.4 +/- 23.5 years).