Endocrinological outcome of different treatment options in children with craniopharyngioma: a retrospective analysis of 66 cases

Pediatr Neurosurg. 2004 May-Jun;40(3):112-9. doi: 10.1159/000079852.


Craniopharyngioma is one of the leading causes of hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction in childhood, caused either by the tumor itself or the consequences of treatment. Tumor management in terms of recurrence rate, quality of life and complications is still controversial. Sixty-six patients with craniopharyngioma at pediatric age were reviewed for symptoms, signs, types of treatment, recurrence rates, complications, and endocrinological outcome. The majority of symptoms was related to the neurological system. Complaints only affecting the endocrinological system were seen in 6% of patients. The most frequent complaints were headache and vomiting (74.2%). The main endocrinological complaints were polyuria and polydipsia (15%), and lassitude (10.6%). Although short stature was a symptom in 9.1% of patients, it was a finding in 39.7% of patients. Plain skull X-rays raised the suspicion of intracranial tumor in more than 90% of children with craniopharyngioma. Recurrence rates were independent of the extent of tumor removal (total or subtotal). The frequency of endocrine dysfunction increased significantly after treatment. The most frequent hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction was growth hormone deficiency (100%) and gonadotropin deficiency (80%). Hypothyroidism was diagnosed in 74% of patients. The frequency of hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction was not affected by the extent of tumor removal. Radiotherapy did not increase the frequency of endocrine dysfunctions further. In conclusion, growth follow-up in childhood seems to be an important indicator of craniopharyngioma in early diagnosis. Radiotherapy and extent of tumor removal - either total or subtotal - did not influence endocrine outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniopharyngioma / complications
  • Craniopharyngioma / physiopathology
  • Craniopharyngioma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior / blood
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / complications
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Thyroxine
  • Hydrocortisone