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Brainmaster, Board Certified MD
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 58
Experience:  ABPN certified. 6 years of outpatient general neurology practice experience. No malpractice cases
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Can an arachnoid cyst have symptoms that include a sensation

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Can an arachnoid cyst have symptoms that include a sensation of pressure on parts of the head coupled with a temporary sense of losing a train of thought; and I have been smelling vanilla on and off all through the day and in my sleep.
I had sinus surgery several years ago and lost my sense of smell yet this sense of vanilla or burnt vanilla is often quite powerful. This is a rather recent development, sometimes manifesting with mild nausea and mild headache. The cyst was diagnosed from the pre-op scan for the sinus surgery. I consulted a neurologist two years ago who said it was asymptomatic and not a concern, best left alone.
I am wondering if the cyst has become symptomatic or is there some other causation suggested.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  Brainmaster replied 7 years ago.


arachnoid cyst is something you are born with and will have until the end. The analogy that I make to my patients is if you ever seen the tree growing through the fence - as the tree was growing and something was on it's way it actually grew and accommodated the fence in it - arachnoid cyst is the same - as your brain was developing that cystic area was accommodated by growing brain - therefore nothing should be happening after the brain has developed. additionally, if something is supposed to happen - it would have happened when you where a child and not as the age of 53. you do not drain them because they are likely to be connected with CSF producing ventricles and will "grow back" right after the drainage.

Smells that you are experiencing could come from 2 sources - occasionally after sinus surgery - certain smell receptors become "hypersensitive"

and finally - i had one patient who smelled gasoline everywhere she went - eventually was diagnosed with seizure disorder, so EEG in local neurologist office may prove useful (especially if you have loss of "train of thoughts")

good luck

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