Prevalence of pineal cysts in children and young adults. Clinical article

J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2009 Sep;4(3):230-6. doi: 10.3171/2009.4.PEDS0951.


Object: Pineal cysts are a frequent incidental finding on intracranial imaging. In adults, the prevalence of pineal cysts is estimated to be 1.1-4.3%. However, the prevalence is not well established in younger patients.

Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed a consecutive series of 14,516 patients 25 years of age and younger, who underwent brain MR imaging at a single institution over an 11-year period. In patients identified with pineal cysts, the authors analyzed the images according to cyst size, signal characteristics, enhancement pattern, and evidence of local mass effect. Patient characteristics including demographics and other intracranial diagnoses were collected in the pineal cyst population and compared with a randomly selected age- and sex-matched control patient population. The data were evaluated using univariate and multivariate logistic regression, linear regression, and ANOVA.

Results: The authors identified 288 pineal region cysts (2.0%). The prevalence of pineal cysts was higher in female (2.4%) than in male patients (1.5%; p < 0.001). Pineal cysts were identified in patients of all ages, with an increased prevalence found in older patients (p < 0.001). Pineal cyst size was similar for all age and sex groups.

Conclusions: Pineal cysts are common in the pediatric population, with an increased prevalence in girls and in older patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / therapy
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pineal Gland*
  • Pinealoma / epidemiology*
  • Pinealoma / pathology*
  • Pinealoma / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Young Adult