Craniopharyngioma Treatment

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Craniopharyngioma is a rare, congenital benign tumor. Located within or above the pituitary gland, this tumor can press on important structures around the brain. You might experience headaches, double vision, and other health complications. At UVA Health, you'll find a team of experts who specialize in treating craniopharyngiomas and other benign brain tumors.

Craniopharyngioma Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health

These tumors are typically found once they start causing symptoms.  

Tests done to diagnosis craniopharyngioma include:

  • Pituitary hormone blood tests
  • CT and MRI scans
  • Visual field and acuity testing 
  • Cognitive testing

At UVA Health, you'll have a team to tailor treatment for you. Most often, this team includes an endocrinologist, neurosurgeon, and neuro-ophthalmologist. Your treatment may include: 

    Medical Therapy

    Most patients require hormone replacement(s) because of damage to the normal pituitary gland by the tumor. 


    Experts usually recommend complete surgical removal of the craniopharyngioma using either a craniotomy or a transsphenoidal approach.

    Radiation Therapy

    Depending on your age and the location of the remaining tumor, your surgeon may recommend a more conservative approach using radiation therapy or radiotherapy.


    In select cases, you may be treated with a less invasive drainage method, followed by a radioactive isotope or antineoplastic agent.  

    Learn more about our expertise in treating benign brain tumors

    Signs of Craniopharyngiomas

    Craniopharyngiomas can cause a wide variety of symptoms. But unlike pituitary adenomas, this type of tumor does not produce hormones. It does frequently interfere with normal pituitary gland function and may cause pituitary deficiencies.

    Symptoms include:

    • Increased cranial pressure
    • Headache
    • Visual disturbances, including double vision and blurring
    • Vomiting without nausea
    • Altered level of consciousness
    • Back pain
    • Pituitary dysfunction and deficiencies
    • Hypogonadism (decreased libido, altered menstrual cycles)
    • Diabetes insipidus (a disorder of water balance with frequent urination and excessive thirst)
    • High blood pressure