Brain Tumor: Craniopharyngioma

The craniopharyngioma (composed of lat. Cranium = skull, Greek. Pharynx = throat, “-om” medical extension for tumors) also knoen as Erdheim tumor, is a benign tumor, which is formed by a malformation of residual tissue in the pituitary gland.

The craniopharyngioma is a slow-growing brain tumor. The tumor is benign and usually very late symptoms are appeared. The craniopharyngioma produced in the region of the pituitary gland.

There are two different types, the adamantinomatous and papillary craniopharyngioma. The adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma usually occurs in children between 5 and 10 years of age. The papillary type of craniopharyngioma however occurs exclusively in adults, between 60 to 75 years of age. Overall, craniopharyngioma is rare. In children, it makes five to ten percent, in adults only three to five percent of all tumors of the skull. In children Craniopharyngiomas account for about 50% of all tumors of pituitary region. Men and women are equally affected.

The pituitary gland is responsible for the formation of hormones. Hormones affect the growth, metabolism , development of puberty , weight regulation and the regulation of the fluid balance of the body. The craniopharyngioma often accompanied by visual disturbances, as associated with the area of the pituitary gland crossing the optic nerve are often affected.

The craniopharyngioma is a chambered, fluid-filled tumor which is surrounded by a solid capsule. The liquid contains high levels of cholesterol and solid ingredients are calcium deposits. The craniopharyngioma grows very slowly and does not form metastases.

Causes of craniopharyngioma

The craniopharyngioma emerges from cells that have formed a connecting passage between the brain and throat (ductus craniopharyngeus) during embryonic development. A craniopharyngioma occur suddenly and uncontrollably by proliferating of the remains of these cells in children and adults. It grows in the so-called Turkish saddle (sella). This is a bony cavity of the anterior cranial base, in which the pituitary gland is located. In the immediate vicinity intersect the two optic nerves. Most symptoms of this tumor is based on a displacement of adjacent structures.

Symptoms of Craniopharyngioma

Craniopharyngioma is basically a benign tumor, that can trigger dangerous symptoms partly depending on location and size of tumor.

Their main symptoms include

  • A headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Stunting
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased urine output (polyuria)

All information about symptoms of Craniopharyngioma is given in following link:

  >>>Symptoms of Craniopharyngioma

Craniopharyngioma: investigation and diagnosis

If there is suspicion of a craniopharyngioma, a visit to an endocrinologist (a specialist in hormonal disorders) is important. He will discuss the patient’s complaints detail, in order to gain any evidence of a failure of certain hormones. It is also measuring worth of various hormone levels in the blood, saliva or urine.

The most important imaging methods in a craniopharyngioma is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Here, the exact location and size of the tumor can be observed. If MRI is not possible for some reason (perhaps because the patient suffers from claustrophobia or a pacemaker carries), alternatively, a computed tomography (CT) can be performed. Here too, a craniopharyngioma including its typical calcifications are accurately represented.

An examination by an ophthalmologist is the evaluation of visual impairment. A visit to the neurologist (nerve specialist) is required if the patient has an increased intracranial pressure or cranial nerve deficits.

Treatments Of Craniopharyngioma

As treatment options for craniopharyngioma are medical treatment, surgery and radiation therapy are available. The exact treatment plan is customized to the patient.