Infrasellar craniopharyngioma

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2012 Feb;114(2):112-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2011.09.010. Epub 2011 Oct 21.


Object: Infrasellar craniopharyngioma (IC) is a rare tumor. This study aimed to investigate the clinical manifestations, treatment methods, and prognosis of IC, which invades the cranial base, nasal sinuses, nasopharynx and clivus.

Methods: Eleven consecutive cases of IC who received treatment in People's Liberation Army Navy General Hospital from 1988 to 2007 were retrospectively analyzed, and the clinical manifestations of IC were summarized. At the same time, literature pertinent to IC was reviewed. These patients consisted of six males and five females with an average age of 28.5 years (range 7-52 years old). Among them, nine cases were identified as simple IC and two cases as suprasellar and IC. Clinical manifestations included headache (seven cases), nasal obstruction (four cases), polydipsia and polyuria (four cases), visual disorder (five cases), delayed sex organ development (three cases), menstrual disorder (one case) and no symptoms (one case). Tumor invasion regions included sellar bottom, ethmoidal sinus, maxillary sinus, sphenoidal sinus, infrasellar region, clivus, nasopharynx and nasal cavity. Solid craniopharyngioma was observed in three cases, cystic craniopharyngioma in seven cases, and mixed cystic and solid type in one case. Four cases underwent craniotomy for tumor resection (three cases also received adjuvant external beam radiation therapy), two cases underwent transnasal approach tumor resection under endoscope guidance (one case simultaneously received adjuvant interstitial brachytherapy) and four cases underwent stereotactic interstitial radiation (radioisotope (32)P brachytherapy).

Results: All cases were followed up for an average of 22.5 years (range 9-98 months). Imaging results showed that tumors disappeared in one case, were clearly reduced in eight cases and were stable in two cases. Clinical symptoms disappeared in three cases, and improved in seven cases. No symptoms appeared in the case presenting with no symptoms. All patients were able to resume work, study and daily tasks.

Conclusions: IC is rare (the present cases account for 0.23% of all retrieved cases). Its chief clinical manifestations include headache, nasal obstruction, polydipsia and polyuria, and visual disorder. Lesions include solid, cystic, and mixed cystic and solid types. It is very difficult to resect the whole diseased region because this disease invades the cranial base, nasal sinuses and nasopharynx. Individualized treatments should be used according to lesion characteristics and invasion range, for example, stereotaxic interstitial brachytherapy. Radical resection or partial resection plus external beam radiation therapy produces better prognosis in IC than intracranial craniopharyngioma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Child
  • Craniopharyngioma / pathology*
  • Craniopharyngioma / surgery
  • Craniotomy
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity / surgery
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Pituitary Gland / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery
  • Prognosis
  • Radiosurgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult