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James K. Liu, Chad D. Cole, John R. W. Kestle, Douglas L. Brockmeyer and Marion L. Walker

The optimal treatment of craniopharyngioma in children remains a challenge. The use of complete excision to minimize recurrence continues to be controversial because of the risk of postoperative morbidity and death. Advances in skull base approaches, modern microsurgical techniques, neuroimaging, and hormone replacement therapy, however, have allowed safe gross- or near-total resection in the majority of cases. Total removal of these tumors, if possible, offers the best chance of cure for the patient. Although craniopharyngiomas are not strictly tumors of skull base origin, their intimate relationship with the neurovascular structures of this region often requires a skull base approach to maximize the surgical corridor and facilitate adequate microsurgical resection. In this review, the authors focus on commonly used skull base approaches for the surgical management of craniopharyngioma. They discuss the relative indications, advantages, disadvantages, and complications associated with each approach. Illustrative cases and intra-operative videos are presented.