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An Overview of Pineal Cysts: Benign Cystic Masses in the Brain

written by: Emma Lloyd • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 6/26/2010

Pineal cysts are cystic masses that form in the brain. They are benign (non-cancerous), but they may cause seizures or the buildup of fluid around the brain. Learn more about these masses and what causes them.

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    Definition

    The pineal gland is a small gland in the brain which is part of the body’s endocrine system. In some people, small fluid-filled non-cancerous cysts can form in the gland. The reason why these cysts form is unknown, and the reason why some cysts grow and some do not is also a mystery.

    Usually a pineal cyst is asymptomatic, and most people who have a pineal cyst never know it is there. In fact, up to 4% of people who undergo an MRI brain scan, and up to 40% of people who are autopsied after death, have a pineal cyst, and in most cases the cyst causes no symptoms. In some cases, however, the cyst may grow large enough for symptoms to occur.

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    Pineal Cyst Signs and Symptoms

    Pineal cysts usually never grow larger than around one quarter of an inch in diameter. These types of small cysts don’t cause any symptoms, and when their existence is discovered it is usually a result of a routine neurological exam.

    Rarely, a pineal cyst