What are Craniopharyngiomas?

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Craniopharyngiomas are benign tumors that arise from portions of the pituitary gland or stalk. These tumors typically are partially cystic and partially calcified and cause symptoms either by decreasing pituitary hormone production or compressing the optic nerves, leading to visual decline. Craniopharyngiomas commonly occur in children, but can grow and cause problems in adults. They tend to grow slowly (over months to years), but their location can make treatment difficult.


For many craniopharyngiomas, the most common treatment is surgical removal. Surgery previously was performed exclusively through an open craniotomy, requiring an incision of the scalp and removal of part of the skull. However, many craniopharyngiomas may now be removed through an endoscopic endonasal approach. Gamma Knife radiosurgery or fractionated radiotherapy may be possible options in select cases.