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J Neurosurg. 2016 Jul;125(1):24-32. doi: 10.3171/2015.6.JNS141883. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

Origin of craniopharyngiomas: implications for growth pattern, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of tumor recurrence.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, People's Republic of China.


OBJECT Craniopharyngiomas are associated with a high rate of recurrence. The surgical management of recurrent lesions has been among the most challenging neurosurgical procedures because of the craniopharyngioma's complex topographical relationship with surrounding structures. The aim of this study was to define the determinative role of the site of origin on the growth pattern and clinical features of recurrent craniopharyngiomas. METHODS The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 52 patients who had undergone uniform treatment by a single surgeon. For each patient, data concerning symptoms and signs, imaging features, hypothalamic-pituitary function, and recurrence-free survival rate were collected. RESULTS For children, delayed puberty was more frequent in the group with Type I (infradiaphragmatic) craniopharyngioma than in the group with Type TS (tuberoinfundibular and suprasellar extraventricular) lesions (p < 0.05). For adults, blindness was more frequent in the Type I group than in the Type TS group (p < 0.05). Nausea or vomiting, delayed puberty, and growth retardation were more frequent in children than in adults (p < 0.05). Overall clinical outcome was good in 48.07% of the patients and poor in 51.92%. Patients with Type TS recurrent tumors had significantly worse functional outcomes and hypothalamic function than patients with the Type I recurrent tumors but better pituitary function especially in children. CONCLUSIONS The origin of recurrent craniopharyngiomas significantly affected the symptoms, signs, functional outcomes, and hypothalamic-pituitary functions of patients undergoing repeated surgery. Differences in tumor growth patterns and site of origin should be considered when one is comparing outcomes and survival across treatment paradigms in patients with recurrent craniopharyngiomas.


ACTH = adrenocorticotropic hormone; BMI = body mass index; DI = diabetes insipidus; FSH = follicle-stimulating hormone; GH = growth hormone; KPS = Karnofsky Performance Scale; LH = luteinizing hormone; TSH = thyroid-stimulating hormone; craniopharyngiomas; growth pattern; oncology; outcome; recurrence

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