Craniopharyngiomas are slow-growing and benign tumors that develop along the pituitary stalk, which connects the pituitary gland to the brain. While benign, these localized tumors may reach a large size before they are diagnosed and can involve the surrounding pituitary gland, third ventricle, hypothalamus and optic nerves.
As the tumor grows, it puts pressure on the surrounding parts of the brain. This causes symptoms, which vary depending on the area it is compressing.
Larger tumors can also cause headaches and nausea due to increased pressure within the skull or a backup of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (hydrocephalus).
Craniopharyngiomas are diagnosed through a physical exam and specialized testing, including:
An exact diagnosis can only be confirmed once the tumor has been removed. Tissue analysis by a neuropathologist defines the diagnosis and genetic profile of the tumor.
Surgery is the initial treatment for a craniopharyngioma. Our team will develop a personalized plan to remove as much of the tumor as safely possible. However, craniopharyngiomas can adhere to structures within the skull base, so complementary follow-up treatments are sometimes used instead of complete removal.
We use the latest technology for precision during surgery, like high-powered microscopes, ultrasonic aspirators and stereotactic image-guided techniques.
Surgical procedures include:
The diagnosis and molecular profile of each tumor is individually reviewed by our multi-disciplinary tumor board. Together, our experts recommend the best personalized and targeted treatment options incorporating the latest molecular diagnostics, treatment protocols and participation in national clinical trials. Follow-up treatments can include: