“… If you’ve recently learned that you have a brain tumour,
keep this in mind: YOU ARE A STATISTIC OF ONE.
No two tumours are alike. No one else shares
your genetic makeup and your unique brain structure.
This doesn’t mean that you have to face this journey alone.
It does mean that as you explore treatment options
and “success rates” or various procedures,
you cannot assume that the statistics
that you encounter apply to you…”
– Dr. Peter Black, MD
This past weekend, the hockey community lost 25-year-old, Colby Cave, of the Edmonton Oilers. Based on the limited reports, he underwent emergency surgery for a colloid cyst and suffered a brain bleed leading to his unfortunate death. Brain bleeds have been associated with rapidly enlarging cysts, as well as from the surgery itself.
Colloid cysts are not exactly tumors, although they can grow with time. They are not associated with ice hockey or head trauma. It is debated where they come from, but they may be an embryologic remnant trapped in the 3rd ventricle as we are formed. They are benign, and not cancer, but that does not mean they cannot cause great harm to a patient’s brain. The cyst can produce a gelatinous material, so it can grow with time and block the fluid-filled spaces in our brains.
The majority of colloid cysts are found incidentally. In these circumstances, we can observe them. Some patients never need any treatment for a colloid cyst.
However, in some cases, the cysts enlarge to a point where they block the flow of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) and cause symptoms. In these cases, we sometimes have to perform surgery. There is no medication or noninvasive way to shrink a colloid cyst.
There are reports of sudden death from colloid cysts. Sometimes there are no preceding symptoms, while other times very vague or mild headaches, lethargy or nausea/ vomiting are initially present. The thought is that the colloid cyst acts like a pendulum, intermittently obstructing the CSF flow. When there is a sudden and unrelieved blockage, brain herniation can occur followed by abrupt death. The other possibility is that the cyst suddenly enlarges and hemorrhages, leading to immediate symptoms.
Usually, surgery can be performed using an endoscope. A small incision is made, often on the forehead, and a camera is passed into the ventricle. Through this camera, small instruments can be inserted to remove the cyst.
In some situations, colloid cysts cannot be removed
with an endoscope and require a larger procedure, called a craniotomy.
Surgery for a colloid cyst can cause residual symptoms, such as memory loss or persistent headaches, to name a few. Sometimes colloid cysts can recur if they are not completely removed, or require other procedures including CSF shunting.
View gallery below of some pictures regarding Colloid Cysts.