Intracranial non-neoplastic cysts

Last revised by Yahya Baba on 14 Dec 2021

Intracranial non-neoplastic cysts are common findings on MRI and CT brain scans.

A location-based approach is useful in establishing an appropriate diagnosis; some locations are virtually pathognomonic for certain lesions e.g. colloid cyst.

Many cysts may occur in more than one location (midline or off-midline) e.g. arachnoid and epidermoid cysts.

Features which help the diagnostic approach for intracranial cysts:

  • is the cyst extra-axial or intra-axial cyst?
  • is it supra- or infratentorial? 
  • if it is extra-axial, is it midline or off-midline?
  • if it is intra-axial, is it parenchymal or intraventricular?

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