Object: Hypothalamic hamartoma is generally diagnosed based on its magnetic resonance (MR) imaging characteristics and the patient's clinical symptoms, but the relationship between the neuroradiological findings and clinical presentation has never been fully investigated. In this retrospective study the authors sought to determine this relationship.
Methods: The authors classified 11 cases of hypothalamic hamartoma into two categories based on the MR findings. Seven cases were the "parahypothalamic type," in which the hamartoma is only attached to the floor of the third ventricle or suspended from the floor by a peduncle. Four cases were the "intrahypothalamic type," in which the hamartoma involved or was enveloped by the hypothalamus and the tumor distorted the third ventricle. Six patients with the parahypothalamic type exhibited precocious puberty, which was controlled by a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analog, and one patient was asymptomatic. No seizures or mental retardation were observed in this group. All patients with the intrahypothalamic type had medically intractable seizures, and precocious puberty was seen in one. Severe mental retardation and behavioral disorders including aggressiveness were seen in two patients. The seizures were controlled in only one patient, in whom stereotactically targeted irradiation of the lesion was performed. This topology/symptom relationship was reconfirmed in a review of 61 reported cases of hamartoma, in which the MR findings were clearly described. The parahypothalamic type is generally associated with precocious puberty but is unaccompanied by seizures or developmental delay, whereas the intrahypothalamic type is generally associated with seizures. Two thirds of patients with the latter experience developmental delays, and half also exhibit precocious puberty.
Conclusions: Classification of hypothalamic hamartomas into these two categories based on MR findings resulted in a clear correlation between symptoms and the subsequent clinical course.