JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

A systematic review of cognitive performance in patients with childhood craniopharyngioma

Jale Özyurt, Hermann L Müller, Christiane M Thiel
Journal of Neuro-oncology 2015, 125 (1): 9-21
26369768
Craniopharyngiomas are rare brain tumors of the sellar/suprasellar region, often adversely affecting patients' physical and psychosocial functioning. Until a few years ago, knowledge on cognitive deficits in craniopharyngioma patients was based on little valid evidence, with considerable inconsistencies across studies. Findings from recent research, with partly larger sample sizes, add to existing evidence to provide a more clear and reliable picture. The current review aims to summarize and systemize current findings on cognitive deficits in childhood craniopharyngioma, taking account of patient- and treatment-related variables where possible. Those studies were included that reported results of childhood craniopharyngioma patients tested with formalized neuropsychological tests (irrespective of their age at study, group size ≥10). A systematic assignment of test results to subcomponents of broader cognitive domains (e.g. to specific memory systems and processes) allows for a first comprehensive overview of patterns of spared and impaired cognitive functions. We show that episodic memory recall in particular is impaired, largely sparing other memory components. In accordance with recent knowledge on mammillary function, patients with hypothalamic involvement appear to be at particular risk. Deficits in higher cognitive processes, relying on the integrity of the prefrontal cortex and its subcortical pathways, may also occur, but results are still inconsistent. To gain deeper insight into the pattern of deficits and their association with patient- and treatment-related variables, further multi-site research with larger cohorts is needed.

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