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Klin Padiatr. 2006 Mar-Apr;218(2):67-71.

Craniopharyngioma in a female adolescent presenting with symptoms of anorexia nervosa.

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Klinik für Allgmeine Pädiatrie und Neonatologie, Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes, Homburg/Saar.



Tumours of the central nervous system mostly present with neurological symptoms and signs of intracranial hypertension. Several reports of cerebral tumors in adolescents outline initial symptoms of anorexia and emaciation, leading to the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.


We report on a 15.5-year-old girl with a craniopharyngioma. The girl had a 2 year history of weight loss, dystrophy, no onset of puberty, and a 6 year history of headache. These symptoms had led initially to the clinical diagnoses of migraine and anorexia nervosa, since unenhanced computed tomography of the brain was normal. At presentation, physical examination showed short stature (height SDS - 3.6) and Tanner stage I. Bone age delay was about four years. Laboratory analyses showed hypopituitarism. The diagnosis of craniopharyngioma was made by repeated imaging, depicting an intrasellar and parasellar mass, which was totally removed by neurosurgery. Hormonal substitution with hGH, L-thyroxine, hydrocortisone, and estrogens led to normal physiological development and final height within upper target height.


The reported case illustrates that the diagnosis of craniopharyngioma is often delayed due to unspecific clinical symptoms. Careful evaluation of anthropometrics, ophthalmologic, and endocrine data in patients with suspected eating disorders may give additional clues to the diagnosis of a craniopharyngioma.

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