Growing Rathke's cleft cyst

Case contributed by Dr Chris O'Donnell


Incidental finding in pituitary 7 years ago on CT brain for pulsatile tinnitus. Now visual changes and elevated prolactin levels.

Patient Data

Age: 60 year old
Gender: Female

Follow-up MRI 5 years later

"Snowman" appearing cystic mass (containing CSF-like fluid) in the pituitary extending into the suprasellar cistern causing chiasmal compression. Anterior pituitary (adneohypohysis) displaced anteriorly with the enhancing stalk. No intracystic nodule.


Original MRI performed 5 years prior

Predominately intra-sellar cystic mass without intracystic nodule.  Adenohypophysis and stalk displaced anteriorly.

Case Discussion

Rathke cleft cysts are lined by epithelium that can contain goblet cells. These cells can secrete fluid into the cyst lumen thus over time they can enlarge and cause compression to suprasellar structures such as the chiasm and hypothalamus (although this is unusual). The snowman pattern is due to extension of the cyst through the diaphragma sellae hiatus with "waisting" at the hiatus.

PlayAdd to Share

Case information

rID: 50460
Published: 11th Jan 2017
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.