Posterior hypothalamic involvement on pre-operative MRI predicts hypothalamic obesity in craniopharyngiomas

Pituitary. 2023 Feb;26(1):105-114. doi: 10.1007/s11102-022-01294-0. Epub 2022 Dec 3.


Purpose: Hypothalamic obesity (HO) is a complication associated with craniopharyngioma (CP). Attempts have been made to perioperatively predict the development of this complication, which can be severe and difficult to treat.

Methods: Patients who underwent first transsphenoidal surgical resection in a single center between February 2005 and March 2019 were screened; those who have had prior surgery or radiation, were aged below 18 years, or did not have follow up body mass index (BMI) after surgery were excluded. Primary end point was BMI within 2 years post-surgery. Hypothalamic involvement (HI) was graded based on preoperative and postoperative imaging with regards to anterior, posterior, left and right involvement. Data on baseline demographics, pre-operative and post-operative MRI, and endocrine function were collected.

Results: 45 patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Most patients in our cohort underwent gross total resection (n = 35 patients). 13 patients were from no HI or anterior HI only group and 22 patients were classified as both anterior (ant) and posterior (post) HI group. There was no significant difference between the two groups in the gross total, subtotal or near total resection. Pre-operative BMI and post-operative BMI were significantly higher in patients who had ant and post HI on pre-operative MRI (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). Similarly, post-operative BMI at 13-24 months was also significantly higher in the ant and post HI group on post-op MRI (p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of baseline adrenal insufficiency, thyroid insufficiency, gonadal insufficiency, IGF-1 levels, hyperprolactinemia, and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes insipidus was more common following surgery among those who had anterior and posterior involvement on pre-operative MRI (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: HO appears to be predetermined by tumor involvement in the posterior hypothalamus observed on pre-operative MRI. Posterior HI on pre-operative MRI was also associated with the development of diabetes insipidus after surgery.

Keywords: Adult; Craniopharyngioma; Hypothalamus; Obesity; Pituitary.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Craniopharyngioma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Craniopharyngioma* / surgery
  • Diabetes Insipidus* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypothalamic Diseases* / surgery
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Obesity
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / complications
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome