Hypothalamic hamartomas: with special reference to gelastic epilepsy and surgery

Neurosurgery. 1994 Jun;34(6):949-58; discussion 958. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199406000-00001.


This study presents six patients with hypothalamic hamartomas diagnosed on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging. Histological confirmation was performed in three patients who underwent surgery. Immunohistological assays were used to determine the neurosecretory pattern. Four patients presented with epilepsy, including gelastic seizures. Other symptoms included behavioral abnormalities in four patients and precocious puberty and visual impairment in two patients. One patient presented associated developmental defects. Good results without morbidity were achieved with surgical resectioning in two patients with large hamartomas associated with behavioral abnormalities and gelastic epilepsy that was unresponsive to conventional medical treatment and in one patient with visual impairment. We propose a classification of the hypothalamic hamartomas based on topographical and clinical data obtained from 36 selected cases in the literature and six of our own cases. This classification should help to classify the various treatment methods and the surgical risks into four subgroups (Types la, lb, lla, and llb). We conclude that the surgical approach is a realistic alternative in certain cases, including large and broad-based Type llb hamartomas associated with gelastic epilepsy and behavioral disorders.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Child
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / surgery*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / analysis
  • Hamartoma / diagnosis
  • Hamartoma / pathology
  • Hamartoma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Hypothalamus / pathology
  • Hypothalamus / surgery
  • Laughter / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mammillary Bodies / pathology
  • Mammillary Bodies / surgery
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Puberty, Precocious / diagnosis
  • Puberty, Precocious / pathology
  • Puberty, Precocious / surgery


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone