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Craniopharyngiomas are benign tumors that grow near the pituitary gland. They can be solid tumors or cysts. Approximately 10-15% of pituitary tumors are craniopharyngiomas. They are most commonly found in children, teenagers, and adults older than 50.

Pre-operative images of patient with craniopharyngioma
pre-op sagittal craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor)pre-op coronal craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor)pre-op axial craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor)
Post-operative images of patient with craniopharyngioma who underwent an Orbitozygomatic Craniotomy for resection
post-op sagittal craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor)post-op coronal craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor)post-op axial craniopharyngioma (pituitary tumor)

Symptoms of craniopharyngioma:

Craniopharyngiomas often press on nerves, blood vessels or parts of the brain around the pituitary gland. Symptoms may include:

  • headaches
  • mood swings or behavior changes
  • confusion
  • weight change
  • drowsiness or fatigue
  • nausea
  • changes in vision

Diagnosis of craniopharyngioma:

Blood and urine tests to measure hormone levels and medical imaging provide the best means of diagnosing pituitary tumors. For craniopharyngiomas, an MRI of the area surrounding the pituitary gland will be performed. In addition, a CT scan may be performed to provide a detailed image of the brain and pituitary gland.

Treatment for craniopharyngiomas:

Specific treatment for a craniopharyngioma is determined by the neurosurgeon and endocrinologist (hormonal disorder specialist) from the Pituitary Tumor team. Based on the specific nature of the patient's craniopharyngioma, treatment may include surgical removal of the tumor, including a procedure called orbitozygomatic craniotomy, radiosurgery or stereotactic radiotherapy, or hormonal replacement therapy.

For more information, contact the Pituitary Tumor Center.

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