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Craniopharyngioma Clinical Status Scale: A Standardized Metric Of Preoperative Function And Posttreatment Outcome

Robert E. Elliott, Stephen A. Sands, Russell G. Strom, Jeffrey H. Wisoff

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Object Controversy persists concerning the optimal treatment of craniopharyngiomas in children, and no standard outcome metric exists for comparison across treatment modalities, nor is there one that adequately reflects the multisystem dysfunction that may arise. Methods The authors retrospectively analyzed the records of 86 consecutive children who underwent a uniform treatment paradigm of attempted radical resection performed by a single surgeon. Excluding 3 perioperative deaths and 3 patients with inadequate follow-up, 80 children (34 girls and 46 boys; mean age 9.56 years; mean follow-up 9.6 years) composed the study group (53 primary and 27 previously treated/recurrent tumors). Building on existing classification schemes proposed by De Vile for hypothalamic dysfunction and Wen for overall functional outcome, the authors devised a more nuanced classification system (Craniopharyngioma Clinical Status Scale [CCSS]) that assesses outcome across 5 axes, including neurological examination, visual status, pituitary function, hypothalamic dysfunction, and educational/occupational status at last follow-up (there is a 4-tiered grading scale in each domain, with increasing values reflecting greater dysfunction). Results There was a significant increase in pituitary dysfunction following treatment—consistent with the high rates of diabetes insipidus and hypopituitarism common to the surgical management of craniopharyngiomas—and less dramatic deterioration in hypothalamic function or cognitive domains. Significant improvement in vision was also demonstrated, with no significant overall change in neurological status. Preoperative CCSS scores predicted postoperative outcome better than clinical characteristics like patient age, sex, tumor size, and the location or presence of hydrocephalus. Conclusions Preoperative CCSS scores predicted outcome with higher accuracy than clinical or imaging characteristics. In lieu of randomized trials, the CCSS may provide a useful outcome assessment tool for comparison across treatment paradigms and surgical approaches. Long-term follow-up is critical to the analysis of outcomes of craniopharyngioma treatment, given the often-delayed sequelae of all therapies and the high recurrence rates of these tumors.