A Cross-Sectional Cohort Study of Cerebrovascular Disease and Late Effects After Radiation Therapy for Craniopharyngioma

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The study objective was to describe radiation-induced vascular abnormalities, stroke prevalence, and stroke risk factors in survivors of childhood craniopharyngioma.


Twenty survivors of childhood craniopharyngioma who received radiotherapy (RT) were included in the study. A clinical history, quality of life assessment, cognitive functioning assessment, magnetic resonance angiogram or computed tomography angiogram, fasting lipid profile, and fasting glucose or hemoglobin A1c test were obtained.


Median age at diagnosis was 10.3 years and median age at time of study was 29.0 years. Vascular abnormalities were detected in six (32%) of 19 patients’ angiograms (vascular stenosis, decreased artery size, aneurysm, cavernoma, and small vessel disease). Five (25%) of 20 patients experienced a stroke after RT. Median time since RT was 27.8 versus 9.1 years in patients with versus without vascular abnormalities (P = 0.02). A low level of high-density lipoproteiin (HDL) was present in 100% (5/5) of patients who had a post-RT stroke as compared with 13% (2/15) of patients who did not have any post-RT stroke (P = 0.02). Previous stroke had occurred in 0% (0/5) of patients receiving growth hormone (GH) replacement at the time of study, compared to 40% (6/15) of patients who were not receiving GH replacement (P = 0.09).


Patients with craniopharyngioma treated with RT have a high prevalence of stroke and vascular abnormalities, particularly those with low HDL and longer duration of time since RT. There is a trend to suggest that continual GH replacement may reduce the risk of stroke. These patients should undergo careful monitoring and aggressive modification of stroke risk factors.

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