CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -It has been reported in the past that Ohio State University’s Head Football Coach Urban Meyer suffers from an arachnoid cyst in his brain and it is ultimately what has lead to his decision to retire.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, arachnoid cysts are the most common of brain cysts and most who have them, were born with the condition.
Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer is a neurosurgeon with University Hospitals.
While he has not treated Meyer, or studied his case, he does explain most people don’t even know they have a cyst.
Meyer is a rarity.
“The vast majority of them are a-symptomatic,” Hoffer said, meaning there are no signs or symptoms.
Hoffer explains there are three membrane layers that cover the brain and spinal cord, one of which is the arachnoid.
A cyst is a small pocket, or mass, that has filled with spinal cord fluid.
So, an arachnoid cyst means it has formed in that layer of the brains membrane.
Normally the fluid would circulate and be a part of the spinal cord, but for whatever reason there is a blockage keeping that fluid in the membrane.
“Usually you are born with it, and you never know you have it until you have a scan because of something like a car accident,” Hoffer said.
But is some cases the cyst starts to apply pressure on the brain which be the cause of debilitating headaches.
“The pressure doesn’t go up or down in a cyst, so headaches are multi-factorial,” Hoffer said, which means headaches with a cyst can have other factors causing the pain.
As for the pain though Hoffer said it’s very understandable that it could be at such a high level to make a person have to step away from a career.
“It can be extremely debilitating. Pain can interfere with cognitive skills, physical functions, job relationships, family relationships," Hoffer said.
“People can be in so much pain they can’t perform their job.”
According to Hoffer there are two ways you can treat an arachnoid cyst with surgery.
One is a fenestration procedure which makes a window near the cyst to allow the fluid to flow back into the rest of the bodies spinal fluid.
In extreme cases a shunt can be put in, where a tube is permanently placed into the cysts and drains into the abdomen.