The records of 59 children with craniopharyngioma first treated between 1960 and 1980 were reviewed. There was a high incidence of postoperative growth hormone deficiency (43 of 43), andrenocorticortopin deficiency (26 of 36), thyrotrophin deficiency (13 of 20), gonadotrophin deficiency (15 of 16), and diabetes insipidus (44 of 58). Fifteen patients have died: diabetes insipidus was a contributory factor in 5 patients who died within the first 4 months of surgery; and 8 further children died unexpectedly after the postoperative period, probably as a result of anterior pituitary insufficiency. In addition, hypopituitarism led to medical emergencies in 12, 9 of whom had symptomatic hypoglycaemia. These findings illustrate the high incidence of pituitary deficits which follow current methods for treating childhood craniopharyngioma, and the long-term risks associated with these deficits.
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