Adult Craniopharyngioma: Case Series, Systematic Review, and Meta-Analysis

Neurosurgery. 2018 Oct 1;83(4):631-641. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyx570.


Background: The optimal therapeutic approach for adult craniopharyngioma remains controversial. Some advocate for gross total resection (GTR), while others advocate for subtotal resection followed by adjuvant radiotherapy (STR + XRT).

Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis assessing the rate of recurrence in the follow-up of 3 yr in adult craniopharyngioma stratified by extent of resection and presence of adjuvant radiotherapy.

Methods: MEDLINE (1946-July 1, 2016) and EMBASE (1980-June 30, 2016) were systematically reviewed. From1975 to 2013, 33 patients were treated with initial surgical resection for adult onset craniopharyngioma at our center and were reviewed for inclusion in this study.

Results: Data from 22 patients were available for inclusion as a case series in the systematic review. Eligible studies (n = 21) were identified from the literature in addition to a case series of our institutional experience. Three groups were available for analysis: GTR, STR + XRT, and STR. The rates of recurrence were 17%, 27%, and 45%, respectively. The risk of developing recurrence was significant for GTR vs STR (odds ratio [OR]: 0.24, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.15-0.38) and STR + XRT vs STR (OR: 0.20, 95% CI: 0.10-0.41). Risk of recurrence after GTR vs STR + XRT did not reach significance (OR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.33-1.24, P = .18).

Conclusion: This is the first and largest systematic review focusing on the rate of recurrence in adult craniopharyngioma. Although the rates of recurrence are favoring GTR, difference in risk of recurrence did not reach significance. This study provides guidance to clinicians and directions for future research with the need to stratify outcomes per treatment modalities.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Craniopharyngioma / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / methods*