Visual functions in children with craniopharyngioma at diagnosis: A systematic review

PLoS One. 2020 Oct 1;15(10):e0240016. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240016. eCollection 2020.


Childhood craniopharyngioma is a rare and slow growing brain tumour, often located in the sellar and suprasellar region. It commonly manifests with visual impairment, increased intracranial pressure and hypothalamic and/or pituitary deficiencies. Visual impairment in childhood adversely affects a child's daily functioning and quality of life. We systematically reviewed the literature to provide an extensive overview of the visual function in children with craniopharyngioma at diagnosis in order to estimate the diversity, magnitude and relevance of the problem of visual impairment. Of the 543 potentially relevant articles, 84 studies met our inclusion criteria. Visual impairment at diagnosis was reported in 1041 of 2071 children (50.3%), decreased visual acuity was reported in 546 of 1321 children (41.3%) and visual field defects were reported in 426 of 1111 children (38.3%). Other ophthalmological findings described were fundoscopic (32.5%) and orthoptic abnormalities (12.5%). Variations in ophthalmological testing methods and ophthalmological definitions precluded a meta-analysis. The results of this review confirm the importance of ophthalmological examination in children with craniopharyngioma at diagnosis in order to detect visual impairment and provide adequate support. Future studies should focus on long-term visual follow-up of childhood craniopharyngioma in response to different treatment strategies to provide insight in risks and ways to prevent further loss of vision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Craniopharyngioma / diagnosis
  • Craniopharyngioma / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Risk
  • Vision, Ocular*

Grants and funding

The PhD track of drs. M.A. Nuijts on visual impairment in children with a brain tumour is funded by a research grant from the Stichting Kinderen Kankervrij (KiKa) (grant number 304). This charitable foundation has no role in study design or conduct of this study, data collection, data analysis and interpretation or manuscript preparation. There is no contribution of commercial organizations.