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Intracavitary brachytherapy of cystic craniopharyngiomas.

Visual function, endocrinological status, and radiological outcome are reported in 31 patients harboring a cystic craniopharyngioma, who underwent 35 intracavitary brachytherapy procedures with yttrium-90. In 26 of these patients intracavitary brachytherapy was the primary treatment. The follow-up period ranged from 2 to 80 months (41 +/- 22 months, mean +/- standard deviation). Five patients died from tumor-related causes. Endocrine recovery was modest. Prior to brachytherapy, visual acuity was diminished in 38 eyes and field defects were present in 46. Funduscopy before treatment revealed optic atrophy in 47% of the eyes. Visual acuity improved in 29% of the eyes studied, remained stable in 13%, and deteriorated in 58%. Visual field defects improved in 28% of the eyes studied, remained stable in 20%, and deteriorated in 52%. The possible causes for deterioration in visual function are discussed. Complete resolution of 10 cysts was noted. In 12 patients the size of the cyst decreased; however, in three of these patients new cyst formation took place. The cyst size stabilized in six cases and increased in three. Although there is still a substantial degree of visual function deterioration following intracavitary brachytherapy, morbidity is otherwise low, making this treatment modality a reasonable alternative to craniotomy.

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