Arachnoid cysts associated with subdural hematomas and hygromas: analysis of 16 cases, long-term follow-up, and review of the literature

Neurosurgery. 1997 Mar;40(3):483-90. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199703000-00010.


Objective: Subdural hematomas and hygromas are infrequently encountered complications of arachnoid cysts of the middle cranial fossa and are particularly rare with cysts of other regions. Reports in the literature focus on casuistic observations. Therapeutic recommendations often include fenestration or extirpation of the cyst wall, in addition to evacuation of the space-occupying lesion. This study evaluates the results of and rationale for a more conservative approach, usually without cyst removal.

Methods: Sixteen cases of complicated arachnoid cysts, from a total of 658 patients with subdural hematomas or hygromas, were analyzed retrospectively together with 75 other cases reported in the literature. Additionally, 94 magnetic resonance imaging scans from 89 patients with untreated arachnoid cysts, from a total of 11,487 examinations, were reviewed for signs of hemorrhagic complications.

Results: Arachnoid cysts of the middle cranial fossa were found in 2.43% of patients with chronic subdural hematomas or hygromas. This indicated a fivefold greater prevalence of arachnoid cysts, compared with our magnetic resonance imaging-examined patient group. Only two patients with untreated cysts showed signs of hemorrhage in magnetic resonance imaging scans. An excellent or good therapeutic result was achieved with evacuation of the subdural fluid by drainage or craniotomy in 13 cases and with conservative treatment in two cases. Only one patient underwent additional fenestration of the cyst wall. No additional symptoms from the arachnoid cysts occurred in a follow-up period of up to 14 years after therapy.

Conclusions: We do not generally consider it necessary to perform cyst diversion or fenestration at the time of drainage of a hematoma or hygroma in previously asymptomatic arachnoid cysts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arachnoid Cysts / diagnosis
  • Arachnoid Cysts / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniotomy
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Hematoma, Subdural / diagnosis
  • Hematoma, Subdural / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Lymphangioma, Cystic / diagnosis
  • Lymphangioma, Cystic / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome