Temporal lobe and hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunctions after radiotherapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a distinct clinical syndrome

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1988 Oct;51(10):1302-7. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.51.10.1302.


Eleven patients with combined neurological and endocrine complications after external radiotherapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma are described. Neurologically, memory disturbance, complex partial seizures and hypodense areas in one or both temporal lobes on CT were typical features. Endocrinologically, hypopituitarism was the prominent manifestation. This constellation of clinical features in a patient with previous radiotherapy to the nasopharynx characterises radiation injury to the inferomedial aspects of the temporal lobes and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. While the parenchymal brain lesions may mimic metastases or glioma on CT, the associated endocrine disturbance would betray the correct diagnosis. The importance of recognising the hypopituitarism which may be clinically asymptomatic and which is amenable to therapy is emphasised, as is the need for a proper fractionation of the radiation dose to minimise the incidence of these disabling complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypopituitarism / etiology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / radiation effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / etiology
  • Pituitary Function Tests
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Syndrome
  • Temporal Lobe / radiation effects*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed