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01.12.2019 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Psychiatry 1/2019

Case report: a giant arachnoid cyst masking Alzheimer’s disease

BMC Psychiatry > Ausgabe 1/2019
Anna-Sophia Wahl, Martin Löffler, Lucrezia Hausner, Michaela Ruttorf, Frauke Nees, Lutz Frölich
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12888-019-2247-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Anna-Sophia Wahl and Martin Löffler contributed equally to this work.

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Intracranial arachnoid cysts are usually benign congenital findings of neuroimaging modalities, sometimes however, leading to focal neurological and psychiatric comorbidities. Whether primarily clinically silent cysts may become causally involved in cognitive decline in old age is neither well examined nor understood.

Case presentation

A 66-year old caucasian man presenting with a giant left-hemispheric frontotemporal cyst without progression of size, presented with slowly progressive cognitive decline. Neuropsychological assessment revealed an amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) without further neurological or psychiatric symptoms. The patient showed mild medio-temporal lobe atrophy on structural MRI. Diffusion tensor and functional magnetic resonance imaging depicted a rather sustained function of the strongly suppressed left hemisphere. Amyloid-PET imaging was positive for increased amyloid burden and he was homozygous for the APOEε3-gene. A diagnosis of MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease was given and a co-morbidity with a silent arachnoid cyst was assumed. To investigate, if a potentially reduced CSF flow due to the giant arachnoid cyst contributed to the early manifestation of AD, we reviewed 15 case series of subjects with frontotemporal arachnoid cysts and cognitive decline. However, no increased manifestation of neurodegenerative disorders was reported.


With this case report, we illustrate the necessity of a systematic work-up for neurodegenerative disorders in patients with arachnoid cysts and emerging cognitive decline. We finally propose a modus operandi for the stratification and management of patients with arachnoid cysts potentially susceptive for cognitive dysfunction.
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