The growth and endocrine sequelae of 75 children (33 girls and 42 boys) with craniopharyngioma, treated from 1973 to 1994, were studied by retrospective review and by follow up assessment in 66 survivors, with a mean time from initial surgery of 6.7 years (range 1.5 to 19.8 years). Although infrequently complained of, 71% of patients had symptoms to suggest an endocrinopathy at diagnosis. After surgery, multiple endocrinopathies were almost universal, such that 75% of children had panhypopituitarism at follow up. Hypoadrenal crises in association with intercurrent illness contributed significantly to morbidity and mortality, as did the metabolic consequences of concomitant antidiuretic hormone (ADH) insufficiency and absent thirst. Final height in 25 patients was significantly below genetic target height, particularly in the girls, with loss of height potential occurring during the pubertal years. The endocrine morbidity associated with craniopharyngioma and its treatment remains high but manageable with appropriate hormone replacement. However, the combination of ADH insufficiency and an impaired sense of thirst following aggressive surgery and severe hypothalamic injury remains one of the most complex management problems.
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