Craniopharyngiomas are rare embryonic malformational tumors of the sellar/parasellar region, classified by the WHO as tumors with low-grade malignancy (WHO I°). The childhood adamantinomatous subtype of craniopharyngioma is usually cystic with calcified areas. At the time of diagnosis, hypothalamic/pituitary deficits, visual disturbances and increased intracranial pressure are major symptoms. The treatment of choice in case of favorable tumor location (without hypothalamic involvement) is complete resection. It is important to ensure that optical and hypothalamic functionality are preserved. In case of unfavorable tumor location, i.e. with hypothalamic involvement, a hypothalamus-sparing surgical strategy with subsequent local irradiation of residual tumor is recommended. In the further course of the disease, recurrences and progression often occur. Nevertheless, overall survival rates are high at 92%. Severe impairment of quality of life and comorbidities such as metabolic syndrome, hypothalamic obesity and neurological consequences can be observed in patients with disease- and/or treatment-related lesions of hypothalamic structures. Childhood-onset craniopharyngioma frequently manifests as a chronic disease so that patients require lifelong, continuous care by experienced multidisciplinary teams to manage clinical and quality of life consequences.For this review, a search for original articles and reviews published between 1986 and 2020 was performed in Pubmed, Science Citation Index Expanded, EMBASE and Scopus. The search terms used were "craniopharyngioma, hypothalamus, pituitary obesity, irradiation, neurosurgery".
Anna Otte, Hermann L Müller