Incidental pineal cysts in children who undergo 3-T MRI

Pediatr Radiol. 2013 Dec;43(12):1577-83. doi: 10.1007/s00247-013-2742-x. Epub 2013 Jul 14.


Background: Pineal cysts, both simple and complex, are commonly encountered in children. More cysts are being detected with MR technology; however, nearly all pineal cysts are benign and require no follow-up.

Objective: To discover the prevalence of pineal cysts in children at our institution who have undergone high-resolution 3-T MRI.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 100 consecutive 3-T brain MRIs in children ages 1 month to 17 years (mean 6.8 ± 5.1 years). We evaluated 3-D volumetric T1-W imaging, axial T2-W imaging, axial T2-W FLAIR (fluid attenuated inversion recovery) and coronal STIR (short tau inversion recovery) sequences. Pineal parenchymal and cyst volumes were measured in three planes. Cysts were analyzed for the presence and degree of complexity.

Results: Pineal cysts were present in 57% of children, with a mean maximum linear dimension of 4.2 mm (range 1.5-16 mm). Of these cysts, 24.6% showed thin septations or fluid levels reflecting complexity. None of the cysts demonstrated complete T2/FLAIR signal suppression. No cyst wall thickening or nodularity was present. There was no significant difference between the ages of children with and without cysts. Cysts were more commonly encountered in girls than boys (67% vs. 52%; P = 0.043). There was a slight trend toward increasing pineal gland volume with age.

Conclusion: Pineal cysts are often present in children and can be incidentally detected by 3-T MRI. Characteristic-appearing pineal cysts in children are benign, incidental findings, for which follow-up is not required if there are no referable symptoms or excessive size.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cysts / epidemiology*
  • Cysts / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Pineal Gland / pathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tennessee / epidemiology