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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Describe a posterior fossa cyst



Could you please describe how or why a posterior fossa cyst forms and what the possible negative effects it may have on a child if left untreated; ie. their motor skills, ability to comprehend, and auto reflexes such as breathing, heart rhythms, etc.


The posterior fossa is the space at the base of the skull where the cerebellum and brain stem structures are found. This area of the skull and brain form very early in pregnancy. When a cystic area (fluid filled area) is found in this section of the brain it may represent a number of different abnormalities. Posterior fossa abnormalities have been associated with chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic disorders. Possible negative affects could range from almost no disability to severe disabilities, depending on what structures are involved.

It would be important to make an accurate diagnosis in order to provide information about what problems may develop and how to manage those problems in the child. Specialists such as a neurologist, neuro-radiologist and geneticist would help define the diagnosis.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University