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Childs Nerv Syst. 2019 Jan;35(1):53-61. doi: 10.1007/s00381-018-3954-z. Epub 2018 Aug 27.

Benefits of image-guided stereotactic hypofractionated radiation therapy as adjuvant treatment of craniopharyngiomas. A review.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Policlinico Universitario "G. Martino", University of Messina, 98125, Messina, Italy.
Department of Neurosurgery, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Messina, Messina, Italy.
Department of Neurosurgery, Policlinico Universitario "G. Martino", University of Messina, 98125, Messina, Italy.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Neurosurgery, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.



Craniopharyngiomas account for 5.6-13% of intracranial tumors in children. Despite being histologically benign, these tumors remain a major neurosurgical challenge because of the typical tight adherence to adjacent critical structures. The optimal therapeutic approach for this disease is controversial. Large cystic size and adherence to neurovascular, neuroendocrine, and optic structures without a clear line of cleavage make complete resection problematic and often hazardous. For these reasons, partial resection and adjuvant treatment play an important role. Post-operative radiation therapy (RT) following either complete or incomplete tumor removal is associated with significantly decreased recurrence rates. The aim of this review is to analyze the potential advantage of the most modern technical advancements for RT of craniopharyngiomas.


This narrative review on the topic of craniopharyngiomas was based on published data available on PUBMED/Medline. All data concerning adjuvant or upfront radiation therapy treatment of craniopharyngioma were reviewed and summarized. A more detailed analysis of fractionated frameless steretactic radiosurgery of these tumors is provided as well.


We reviewed the possible improvement provided by intensity modulated beams, arc therapy, image guidance, proton radiation, and fractionated stereotactic radiosurgery. Many published findings on outcome and toxicity after RT involve the use of relatively outdated RT techniques. Technologic improvements in imaging, radiation planning, and delivery have improved the distribution of radiation doses to desired target volumes and reduced the dose to nearby critical normal tissues. Currently available techniques, providing image guidance and improved radiation doses distribution profile, have shown to maintain the efficacy of conventional techniques while significantly reducing the toxicity.


Image-guided radiosurgery holds the dose distributions and precision of frame-based techniques with the remarkable advantage of multiple-session treatments that are better tolerated by sensitive peritumoral structures, such as the optic pathway and hypothalamus. This, together with the comfort of a frameless technique, candidates frameless image-guided radiosurgery to be the first option for the adjuvant post-operative treatment of craniopharyngiomas in children and young adults when total resection cannot be achieved, in particular those with hypothalamic involvement, and when the residual tumor is mostly solid.


Craniopharyngioma; CyberKnife; Image-guided; Radiation therapy; Stereotactic radiosurgery


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