Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Papillary Craniopharyngiomas

World Neurosurg. 2022 Sep:165:e148-e158. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2022.05.115. Epub 2022 May 31.


Objective: Papillary craniopharyngioma (PCP) was previously believed to occur only in adults. Sporadic pediatric PCP (PPCP) confirmed by detection of BRAF V600E mutation has been reported since 2018, but is often misdiagnosed before being diagnosed definitively. We aimed to evaluate PPCP characteristics and propose diagnostic criteria for prompt diagnosis, seeking to reduce patient morbidity and mortality and reduce costs linked to misdiagnosis.

Methods: This study included 5 patients with PPCPs whose data were retrieved retrospectively from among 1032 patients with craniopharyngiomas admitted to Sanbo Brain Hospital Management Group from March 2017 to May 2021. Patients' demographics, clinical presentation, tumor imaging characteristics, histopathologic results, surgical approaches, and postoperative outcomes were analyzed.

Results: PPCP was misdiagnosed intraoperatively as sellar abscess (n = 4) or Rathke cleft cyst (n = 1). Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging showed that all tumors were under the saddle diaphragm, and the cyst wall was enhanced (n = 5). Computed tomography scans showed scattered high-density signs (n = 4). No recurrence was noted after complete resection. Postoperative hypothalamic dysfunction was mild. BRAF V600E mutation was confirmed in all cases by sequencing and immunohistochemistry. Immunohistochemistry showed granulation and inflammation and MPO, CD3, CD20, CD38, CD68, and CD163 were positively expressed.

Conclusions: Misdiagnosis of PPCP is responsible for failed surgical treatment. We propose that prompt diagnosis of PPCP can be achieved if preoperative magnetic resonance images show the tumor under saddle diaphragm with tumor wall enhancement and computed tomography scans show high-density signs scattered in the tumor, which leads to safe, effective tumor resection. Our proposed diagnosis and treatment strategy for PPCP reduces morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Imaging; Papillary craniopharyngioma; Pediatric; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System Cysts* / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System Cysts* / genetics
  • Child
  • Craniopharyngioma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Craniopharyngioma* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf