Microsurgical Keyhole Approach for Middle Fossa Arachnoid Cyst Fenestration

Michael L. Levy, Michael Wang, Henry E. Aryan, Kevin Yoo, Hal Meltzer, Alan R. Cohen, Paul H. Chapman, Knut Wester, Concezio Di Rocco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The optimal surgical treatment for symptomatic temporal arachnoid cysts is controversial. Therapeutic options include cyst shunting, endoscopic fenestration, and craniotomy for fenestration. We reviewed the results for patients who were treated primarily with craniotomy and fenestration at our institution, to provide a baseline for comparisons of the efficacies of other treatment modalities. METHODS: A retrospective review of data for 50 children who underwent keyhole craniotomy for fenestration of temporal arachnoid cysts between 1994 and 2001 was performed after institutional review board approval. During that period, the first-line treatment for all symptomatic middle fossa arachnoid cysts was microcraniotomy for fenestration. Microsurgical dissection to create communications between the cyst cavity and basal cisterns was the goal. All patient records were reviewed and numerous variables related to presentation, cyst size and classification, treatment, cyst resolution, symptom resolution, follow-up periods, and cyst outcomes were recorded. RESULTS: Fifty temporal arachnoid cysts in 50 treated patients were identified. The average age at the time of surgery was 68 ± 57.2 months. The follow-up periods averaged 36 months. There were 34 male and 16 female patients in the series. Twenty-six cysts were on the left side. Indications for surgery included intractable headaches (45%), increasing cyst size (21%), seizures (25%), and hemiparesis (8%). The symptoms most likely to improve were hemiparesis (100%) and abducens nerve palsies. Headaches (67%) and seizure disorders (50%) were less likely to improve. Nine patients exhibited progressive increases in cyst size in serial imaging studies. Those patients were monitored for a mean of 40 ± 23 months before intervention. In the entire series, 82% of patients demonstrated decreases in cyst size in serial imaging studies. Of those patients, 18% demonstrated complete cyst effacement. Overall, 83% of patients with Grade II cysts and 75% of patients with Grade III cysts exhibited evidence of decreases in cyst size in long-term monitoring. Two patients required shunting after craniotomy (4%). Hospital stays averaged 3.4 days. Total surgical times averaged 115 minutes. No significant blood loss occurred (5-50 ml). Complications included spontaneously resolving pseudomeningocele (10%), transient Cranial Nerve III palsy (6%), cerebrospinal fluid leak (6%), subdural hematoma (4%), and wound infection (2%). CONCLUSION: A microsurgical keyhole approach to arachnoid cyst fenestration is a safe effective method for treating middle fossa cysts. This procedure can be performed with minimal morbidity via a minicraniotomy. Compared with an endoscopic approach, better control of hemostasis can be obtained, because of the ability to use bipolar forceps and other standard instruments. The operative time and length of hospital stay were not excessively increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1145
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Arachnoid cyst fenestration
  • Craniotomy
  • Middle fossa
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Shunt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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