What are Craniopharyngiomas?
Craniopharyngiomas are slow growing tumors that arise near the pituitary gland and stalk.
They are derived from pituitary gland embryonic tissues. Usually the structure of craniopharyngioma tumors is a solid cyst. They are extra-axial, meaning they are within the skull, or intracranial, but outside the brain itself, and calcified cystic tumors.
These tumors develop from the tooth-forming tissues present in the supracellar region. Therefore, they contain deposits of calcium, which are visible on x-rays.
Craniopharyngiomas mostly occur in children, but they can also develop in adults over 50 years of age. These tumors are usually discovered when they start to interrupt surrounding structures. They are usually more than 3 cm in size by the time they are detected.
Although these tumors are not malignant, they sometimes invade the surrounding organs and structures. For example, they may become adherent to the pituitary gland, optic nerves, intracranial arteries and to the brain.