Neurosurgical treatment of craniopharyngioma in adults and children: Early and long-term results in a large case series - Clinical article

Pietro Mortini, Marco Losa, Gabriella Pozzobon, Raffaella Barzaghi, Marco Riva, Stefania Acerno, Diana Angius, Giovanna Weber, Giuseppe Chiumello, Massimo Giovanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Object. Craniopharyngioma accounts for 2%-5% of all primary intracranial neoplasms. The optimal management of craniopharyngioma remains controversial. The authors evaluated the early results of surgery and the long-term risk of tumor recurrence in a large series of patients undergoing resection of craniopharyngiomas. Methods. Between 1990 and 2008, 112 consecutive patients (57 male and 55 female patients with a mean [± SEM] age of 33.3 ± 1.8 years) underwent resection of craniopharyngiomas at the authors' hospital. Recurrence or growth of residual tumor tissue during follow-up was assessed using MR imaging. Results. There were 3 perioperative deaths (2.7%). Severe adverse events were more frequent in patients who underwent operations via the transcranial route (37%) than the transsphenoidal approach (5.6%; p <0.001). Magnetic resonance imaging showed radical resection of the tumor in 78 (71.6%) of the remaining 109 patients. Previous surgery and maximum tumor diameter were associated with persistence of disease after surgery. Craniopharyngioma recurred in 26 (24.5%) of 106 patients. Presence of residual tumor on the first postoperative MR imaging, male sex, and no postoperative radiation therapy were associated with a risk of tumor recurrence. Quality-of-life data were assessed in the 91 patients who attended the authors' institution for follow-up visits. Among them, 8.8% patients were partially or completely dependent on others for daily living activities before surgery. This percentage increased to 14.3% at the last follow-up visit. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates were 94.4% (95% CI 90.0%-98.8%) and 90.3% (95% CI 83.4%-97.3%), respectively. Conclusions. Complete surgical removal of craniopharyngioma can be achieved with reasonable safety in more than 70% of patients. Recurrence of craniopharyngioma may occur even after apparent radical excision. Prompt management of residual or recurring disease by radiotherapy, repeat surgery, or a combination of both is usually successful in controlling further tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1350-1359
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Hypopituitarism diabetes insipidus
  • Pituitary neoplasm
  • Pituitary surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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