2005 Volume 45 Issue 5 Pages 221-231
The incidence of hypothalamic hamartomas (HHs) has increased since the introduction of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The etiology of this anomaly and the pathogenesis of its peculiar symptoms remain unclear, but recent electrophysiological, neuroimaging, and clinical studies have yielded important data. Categorizing HHs by the degree of hypothalamic involvement has contributed to the accurate prediction of their prognosis and to improved treatment strategies. Rather than undergoing corticectomy, HH patients with medically intractable seizures are now treated with surgery that targets the HH per se, e.g. HH removal, disconnection from the hypothalamus, stereotactic irradiation, and radiofrequency lesioning. Although surgical intervention carries risks, total eradication or disconnection of the lesion leads to cessation or reduction of seizures and improves the cognitive and behavioral status of these patients. Precocious puberty in HH patients is safely controlled by long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists. The accumulation of knowledge regarding the pathogenesis of symptoms and the development of safe, effective treatment modalities may lead to earlier intervention in young HH patients and prevent the decline in their cognitive abilities and quality of life. This review of hypothalamic hamartomas presents current classifications, pathophysiologies, and treatment modalities.