Intratumoural bleomycin as a treatment for recurrent cystic craniopharyngioma. Case report and review of the literature

Neurocirugia (Astur). 2002 Dec;13(6):479-85; discussion 485. doi: 10.1016/s1130-1473(02)70576-9.


Introduction: The majority of craniopharyngioma (CF) have a cystic component and only 10% are completely solid. In tumors with a large cystic component, stereotactic drainage or instillation of radioctive and/or chemotherapeutic agents have been used. Only several authors have reported the use of bleomycin for the treatment of cystic CF.

Case report: The authors present the case of a nineteen years old patient with a recurrent cystic CF who was treated with intratumoral injections of bleomycin. The patient had been operated on three times before because of regrowth of the tumor. This last time he had a severe disturbance of his visual acuity and a huge regrowth of the cystic CF. An intracystic catheter stereotactically placed was connected to an Ommaya reservoir and, after assuring the impermeability of the cyst, bleomycin was administered through the reservoir up to a total dose of 45mg distributed in six doses. No complications were detected during and after the procedure. A MR performed 4 months after treatment showed a clear reduction in the size of the cyst but 10 months later a new regrowth of the cyst was detected by MR with no new signs or symptoms. A total dose of 30 mg divided in six doses was administered. No complications occurred. The MR 18 months after the first treatment showed the reduction in size of the tumor. The ophtalmological study showed almost normal visual acuity in both eyes.

Discussion: Although there is not an stablished protocol for the indication and the form of application of intracystic bleomycin, results with this treatment for cystic CF seem good in the literature. However, the risk of local complications after the administration of intratumoural bleomycin in these patients is around 10%, and some fatal toxic reactions have been recently reported.

Conclusion: Intracystic administration of bleomycin is a valid option as adjuvant therapy for CF in patients with recurrences that are not surgical candidates because of the high risk of complications. The role of bleomycin as a primary treatment for CF and treatment protocols remain to be stablished with additional studies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Bleomycin / administration & dosage
  • Bleomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Diseases / complications*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Craniopharyngioma / complications*
  • Craniopharyngioma / diagnosis
  • Craniopharyngioma / drug therapy*
  • Cysts / complications*
  • Cysts / diagnosis
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Bleomycin