Craniopharyngioma is a benign (noncancerous) brain tumor that develops at the base of the brain near the pituitary stalk. (The pituitary stalk is the pathway that connects the pituitary gland to the hypothalamus. It allows the hypothalamus to send hormones to the pituitary gland.) The cause of craniopharyngioma is currently unknown.
Craniopharyngiomas make up two to five percent of all primary brain tumors and five to 10 percent of all childhood brain tumors. This type of tumor is typically found in two age groups: children five to 10 years of age, and adults between 50 and 60 years old.
What Are the Symptoms of Craniopharyngioma?
Symptoms of craniopharyngioma may include:
- Behavioral changes or learning difficulties
- Decreased or poor vision due to damage or pressure on the optic nerve
- Pressure on the brain—usually the result of hydrocephalus—that results in nausea, vomiting and difficulty with balance
- Pressure on the pituitary gland that creates hormone imbalances, causing excessive thirst, excessive urination, inhibited growth or obesity
How Is Craniopharyngioma Diagnosed?
Following a physical exam and personal history assessment, tests to confirm a diagnosis may include:
- Blood test to measure hormone levels in the body
- Computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Neurological evaluation
How Is Craniopharyngioma Treated?
Usually, surgery has been the main treatment for craniopharyngioma. However, many patients also benefit from having a type of radiation therapy known as stereotactic radiosurgery coupled with a smaller surgery to remove the tumor. With stereotactic radiosurgery, radiation beams are aimed and delivered directly to the tumor without the need for an incision.
We Specialize in Brain Health
At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, our ivy league educated and board-certified neurosurgeons in New Jersey have years of specialized training in the effective and advanced treatment of craniopharyngiomas and other types of brain tumors. As a practice, we are dedicated to providing superior quality of care to patients living with brain, spine and neuroendovascular conditions using the latest tools and techniques in the industry.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact us today.