Epithelial cystic lesions of the sellar and parasellar region: a continuum of ectodermal derivatives?

J Neurosurg. 1994 Jun;80(6):1018-25. doi: 10.3171/jns.1994.80.6.1018.


Cystic epithelial lesions of the sellar and parasellar region are classified on the basis of histology and location into Rathke's cleft cysts, epithelial cysts, epidermoid cysts, dermoid cysts, and craniopharyngiomas. A retrospective review of the clinical presentation, radiological findings, and histology was performed on 19 such lesions, and a survey of the literature pertinent to the classification, clinical presentation, and embryology of these lesions was conducted. Presentation was nonspecific and not predictive of histology. Imaging studies were generally useful in distinguishing these tumors, with the exception of Rathke's cleft cysts, suprasellar epidermoid cysts, and craniopharyngiomas, which frequently could not be differentiated. On microscopic examination, most lesions fit into distinct categories; however, overlap was common among all and some could not be definitively categorized by histological criteria. Evidence supportive of an ectodermal ancestry for sellar and parasellar epithelial-lined cystic lesions is presented. Based on the current findings and a review of the literature, it is suggested that these lesions represent a continuum of ectodermally derived cystic epithelial lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Craniopharyngioma / diagnosis
  • Cysts / diagnosis*
  • Cysts / embryology
  • Cysts / pathology
  • Dermoid Cyst / diagnosis
  • Ectoderm / pathology*
  • Epidermal Cyst / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sella Turcica*