Craniopharyngiomas are rare, benign, suprasellar brain tumors that account for 1%-3% of all intracranial tumors. Pituitary gland involvement causes loss of pituitary function, which makes endocrine evaluation necessary before and after surgery. Symptoms of intracranial mass effect, including visual field loss, obstructive hydrocephalus, and extraocular palsy of the cranial nerves, may occur. Lifelong follow-up is crucial because of the risk of recurrence and the need for ongoing hormone replacement therapy. Surgical resection is the primary therapy. However, radiotherapy may be indicated. Nurses play a major role in caring for patients with a craniopharyngioma by preventing and identifying complications, educating patients and families about the importance of long-term follow-up, and collaborating with multidisciplinary teams.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Margaret Alvarez, MSN RN APN, at email@example.com. She is an inpatient adult nurse practitioner in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Chicago Hospitals in Chicago.
© 2006 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses