Pituitary Cysts Treatment

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Pituitary cysts can cause headaches, problems seeing clearly, and even hormonal changes. At UVA Health, you'll find experts who can relieve these symptoms with surgery done through the nose.

Types of Pituitary Cysts 

A variety of cysts can appear within the pituitary gland. Some pituitary tumors have cystic components. But most cysts are not true tumors.

Rathke’s cleft cyst (RCC) is the most common type. Rathke’s cleft is a normal part of the developing pituitary gland in the fetus. In some people, the cleft becomes filled with liquid, creating a Rathke’s cleft cyst.

Other types include:

  • Arachnoid cysts
  • Pars intermedia cysts 
  • Epidermoid cysts

Pituitary Cyst Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health

At UVA Health, you'll find experts who treat all types of pituitary tumors, including cysts. Learn why people come from all over the world for our pituitary tumor expertise.

The first step is getting an accurate diagnosis. We'll determine the presence and type of pituitary cyst with an MRI or CT scan and a visual exam.

No therapy is usually needed for a small Rathke’s cleft cyst in a well person who has no visual problems or hormone deficiency.

Large cysts that cause visual deficits should be treated with surgery.

Almost all Rathke’s cleft cysts can be operated on through the nose. So there's no incision on the skin. Your surgeon may either remove the entire cyst wall or drain the cyst and remove only a portion of the wall. 

Symptoms to Watch For

Most cysts are small and cause no symptoms. But you'll want to be checked for a larger pituitary cyst if you experience any of these symptoms.

  • Headaches
  • Visual deficits
  • Pituitary hormone deficiency — in women of childbearing years, this will affect menstrual cycles; in men, this causes a decreased sex drive