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Medicine (MD/DO)
Hypothalamic & Pituitary Disorders

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Craniopharyngioma is a common intracranial tumor that arises from the hypothalamus. It develops from remnants of Rathke's pouch, which embryologically gives rise to the anterior pituitary. This tumor tends to be suprasellar and can enlarge to the point of compressing the pituitary, resulting in hypopituitarism, as well as headaches. Due to its location above the sella turcica, this tumor can compress the optic chiasm resulting in bitemporal hemianopia. Imaging studies may reveal a tooth enamel-like calcification around a suprasellar cyst, which is a hallmark of craniopharyngioma. This cyst contains a yellow, viscous fluid that contains cholesterol crystals.

This tumor tends to occur in the suprasellar region and can compress the pituitary, resulting in deficiencies of pituitary hormones. This can present with GH deficiency, diabetes insipidus, or other pituitary disturbances.

Remnants of Rathke's Pouch
Rafiki with Pouch

This tumor arises from remnants of Rathke's pouch, which gives rise to the anterior pituitary.

Tooth-enamel Like Calcification
Tooth necklace on Calcified-cow

This tumor is characterized by tooth enamel-like calcification around a cyst, which is most easily visualized on CT scan.

Cholesterol Crystals
Cholesterol burger with crystals

The cyst contains cholesterol crystals, which can be seen microscopically.

Yellow Viscous Fluid
Dripping yellow fluid

The cyst contains a yellow viscous fluid with cholesterol crystals within the fluid.


Craniopharyngioma, like many brain tumors, will commonly present as a headache.

Bitemporal Hemianopsia
Bi-temple Tunnel-vision

This tumor can compress the optic chiasm and result in a visual field defect known as bitemporal hemianopsia.


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