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A propensity-adjusted comparison of endoscopic endonasal surgery versus transcranial microsurgery for pediatric craniopharyngioma: a single-center study

Jie Wu, ChengBing Pan, ShenHao Xie, Bin Tang, Jun Fu, Xiao Wu, ZhiGao Tong, BoWen Wu, YouQing Yang, Han Ding, ShaoYang Li, and Tao Hong


When comparing endoscopic endonasal surgery (EES) and transcranial microsurgery (TCM) for adult and mixed-age population craniopharyngiomas, EES has become an alternative to TCM. To date, studies comparing EES and TCM for pediatric craniopharyngiomas are sparse. In this study, the authors aimed to compare postoperative complications and surgical outcomes between EES and TCM for pediatric craniopharyngiomas.


The data of pediatric patients with craniopharyngiomas who underwent surgery between February 2009 and June 2021 at a single center were retrospectively reviewed. All included cases were divided into EES and TCM groups according to the treatment modality received. The baseline characteristics of patients were compared between the groups, as well as surgical results, perioperative complications, and long-term outcomes. To control for confounding factors, propensity-adjusted analysis was performed.


Overall, 51 pediatric craniopharyngioma surgeries were identified in 49 patients, among which 35 were treated with EES and 16 were treated with TCM. The proportion of gross-total resection (GTR) was similar between the groups (94.3% for EES vs 75% for TCM, p = 0.130). TCM was associated with a lower rate of hypogonadism (33.3% vs 64.7%, p = 0.042) and a higher rate of growth hormone deficiency (73.3% vs 26.5%, p = 0.002), permanent diabetes insipidus (DI) (60.0% vs 29.4%, p = 0.043), and panhypopituitarism (80.0% vs 47.1%, p = 0.032) at the last follow-up. CSF leakage only occurred in the EES group, with no significant difference observed between the groups (p > 0.99). TCM significantly increased the risk of worsened visual outcomes (25.0% vs 0.0%, p = 0.012). However, TCM was associated with a significantly longer median duration of follow-up (66.0 vs 40.5 months, p = 0.007) and a significantly lower rate of preoperative hypogonadism (18.8% vs 60.0%, p = 0.006). The propensity-adjusted analysis revealed no difference in the rate of recurrence, hypogonadism, or permanent DI. Additionally, EES was associated with a lower median gain in BMI (1.5 kg/m2 vs 7.5 kg/m2, p = 0.046) and better hypothalamic function (58.3% vs 8.3%, p = 0.027) at the last follow-up.


Compared with TCM, EES was associated with a superior visual outcome, better endocrinological and hypothalamic function, and less BMI gain, but comparable rates of GTR, recurrence, and perioperative complications. These findings have indicated that EES is a safe and effective surgical modality and can be a viable alternative to TCM for pediatric midline craniopharyngiomas.