Craniopharyngiomas and Rathke's Cleft Cysts
These are cystic lesions that grow out of embryologic remnants that were misplaced during the formation of the pituitary gland. While the craniopharyngiomas is considered a tumor and thus grows from the division of cells, the rathke’s cleft cyst is not a tumor and grows as fluid collects inside. Both can grow and push on adjacent structures such as the optic nerves, carotid arteries or cranial nerves.
The treatment of choice for both craniopharyngiomas and rathke’s cleft cysts is surgical removal. Using the endoscopic, endonasal approach, we can now remove and drain these lesions without opening up the skull or cutting into the face. Since the chance of recurrence for craniopharygiomas is based on the amount of tumors that remains behind after surgery, using the improved visualization provided by the endoscope, the recurrence rate can be minimized. However, large craniopharyngiomas may not be completely removable with the endonasal, endoscopic technique.