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Follow-up of pineal cysts in children: is it necessary?



Pineal cysts are common incidental findings in children undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Several studies have suggested MRI follow-up if the cyst is larger than 10 mm. However, cysts do not usually change during follow-up. Prevalence, growth, and structure of the pineal cysts were analyzed to decide if follow-up MRI is necessary.


A retrospective review between 2010 and 2015 was performed using 3851 MRI examinations of children aged 0–16 years to detect pineal cysts having a maximum diameter ≥ 10 mm. Eighty-one children with pineal cysts were identified and 79 of them had been controlled by MRI. Cysts were analyzed for the size, growth, and structure.


A total of 1.8% of the children had a pineal cyst with a diameter ≥ 10 mm. Cysts were present in 48 girls (59.3%) and 33 boys (40.7%). Most pineal cysts (70/79) did not significantly grow during the follow-up (median 10 months, range 3–145 months). A total of 11.4% (9/79) of the cysts grew with the biggest change measured from the outer cyst wall sagittal anteroposterior dimension (mean 3.4 mm ± 1.7 mm). Only one cyst grew more than 5 mm. We found no factors correlating with the cyst growth among 9 cysts that grew > 2 mm.


A majority of pineal cysts remained unchanged during the MRI follow-up. Results of this study suggest that routine MRI follow-up of pineal cysts is not necessary in the absence of unusual radiological characteristics or related clinical symptoms.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maria Suo-Palosaari.

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No funding was received for this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Oulu University Hospital and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Jussila, MP., Olsén, P., Salokorpi, N. et al. Follow-up of pineal cysts in children: is it necessary?. Neuroradiology 59, 1265–1273 (2017).

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  • Pineal cyst
  • Brain MRI
  • Children
  • Incidental findings
  • Follow-up