Treatment Outcomes of Rathke's Cleft Cysts Managed with Marsupialization

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Rathke's cleft cysts (RCC) are benign cystic lesions of the sella resulting from incomplete obliteration of Rathke's cleft. Symptomatic lesions often require surgical decompression, which is often amenable to a transnasal, transsphenoidal (TNTS) approach. We report our experience with marsupialization of RCC and describe a novel technique to promote re-epithelization of the cyst cavity.


Retrospective review.


Tertiary academic medical center.


Patients who underwent TNTS for RCC between 2007 and 2015.

Main Outcome Measures

Demographics, lesion characteristics, and reconstruction and treatment outcomes.


In total, 52 patients were identified. The mean age was 41 ± 18 years. The mean RCC size was 13 ± 5 mm. Intraoperative cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak was encountered in 14 (27%) patients; all were repaired. There were six complications (12%) and no deaths. Mean follow-up was 20 ± 18 months, with five (10%) recurrences. RCC size was associated with intraoperative CSF leak (p = 0.04). In 12 patients, the marsupialized cyst cavity was lined with a free mucosal graft (FMG) to promote healing and re-epithelialization.


The TNTS approach is safe and effective in surgical decompression of RCC. Lining the exposed cyst cavity with an FMG is a simple intervention without added morbidity that may promote formation of an epithelialized tract.

Level of Evidence

Not applicable.

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