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1. Overview

Craniopharyngioma is a tumor that arises in the pituitary gland in the brain. It is supposed to come from the unclassified pituitary embryonic remains, important in the formation of the pituitary gland. These tumors grow slowly but with a locally destructive role.

They often contain areas of calcification and cystic portions that are filled with liquid. Their consistency can be varied from solid predominant to cystic predominant. Craniopharyngioma occurs in both children and adults, including the elderly.


1. Overview
2. Localization
3. Typical symptoms
4. Diagnosis

2. Localization

Craniopharyngioma generally occurs in the pituitary gland area called the Turkish saddle. It usually extends to the top of the brain, in an area known as the hypothalamus, where the optic nerves are located – those that carry visual information from the eye.

Craniopharyngiomas are most commonly found in the pituitary gland and horizontally extend to the hypothalamus, as follows:

- In the front of it
- In the posterior side of it
- In the sideways

3. Typical symptoms

Craniopharyngiomas tend to grow slowly while the symptoms also develop in the same rhythm, over the years. General symptoms such as headaches are common and due to their position are affected optic nerves, pituitary gland and hypothalamus.

Pituitary gland and hypothalamus are important because many hormonal functions, thus damaging them can cause a variety of hormonal syndromes. Among the examples of hormonal insufficiency include:
- Growth hormone insufficiency
- Adrenal insufficiency (hypotension, hypoglycemia, lethargy, confusion, etc.).
- Hypothyroidism (weight gain, intolerance, fatigue, cold)
- Insipidus diabetes.

Many patients exhibit reproductive disorders: impotence occurs in men, women may miss normal menstrual cycles, while younger patients may suffer from delayed puberty.

Optic nerve lesions cause varying degrees of vision loss. Larger tumors may have a significant impact on the hypothalamus and brain that could lead to endocrine disorders, autonomic and behavioral manifestations.

4. Diagnosis

After a thorough neurological examination, the doctor will recommend CT scan or MRI. Following these investigations the doctor can see the typical appearance suprasellar and sellar regions. Although the appearance of craniopharyngioma is unique, it must be distinguished from other brain tumors that can occur in the same region, such as a pituitary adenoma or meningioma.

An accurate diagnosis requires collection of tumor tissue samples to be analyzed by a pathologist. Along imaging investigations, most patients who have tumors in this area will require hormonal analysis, which will include the testing of multiple pituitary hormone and other hormones that are connected with them.

In this way can be diagnosed any hormonal deficiencies, which could be caused by tumor compression or destruction of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Most of the patients may need a detailed ophthalmologic evaluation to determine if there is any visual dysfunction.



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