Front. Endocrinol., 14 February 2012 |

Bariatric surgery in hypothalamic obesity

  • 1 Division of Endocrinology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
  • 2 Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Craniopharyngiomas (CP) are epithelial neoplasms generally found in the area of the pituitary and hypothalamus. Despite benign histology, these tumors and/or their treatment often result in significant, debilitating disorders of endocrine, neurological, behavioral, and metabolic systems. Severe obesity is observed in a high percentage of patients with CP resulting in significant comorbidities and negatively impacting quality of life. Obesity occurs as a result of hypothalamic damage and disruption of normal homeostatic mechanisms regulating energy balance. Such pathological weight gain, termed hypothalamic obesity (HyOb), is often severe and refractory to therapy. Unfortunately, neither lifestyle intervention nor pharmacotherapy has proven effective in the treatment of HyOb. Given the limited choices and poor results of these treatments, several groups have examined bariatric surgery as a treatment alternative for patients with CP–HyOb. While a large body of evidence exists supporting the use of bariatric surgery in the treatment of exogenous obesity and its comorbidities, its role in the treatment of HyOb has yet to be defined. To date, the existing literature on bariatric surgery in CP–HyOb is largely limited to case reports and series with short term follow-up. Here we review the current reports on the use of bariatric surgery in the treatment of CP–HyOb. We also compare these results to those reported for other populations of HyOb, including Prader–Willi Syndrome, Bardet–Biedl syndrome, and hypothalamic melanocortin signaling defects. While initial reports of bariatric surgery in CP–HyOb are promising, their limited scope makes it difficult to draw any substantial conclusions as to the long term safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery in CP–HyOb. There continues to be a need for more robust, controlled, prospective studies with long term follow-up in order to better define the role of bariatric surgery in the treatment of HyOb.

Keywords: craniopharyngioma, bariatric surgery, gastric bypass, hypothalamic obesity

Citation: Bingham NC, Rose SR and Inge TH (2012) Bariatric surgery in hypothalamic obesity. Front. Endocrin. 3:23. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2012.00023

Received: 27 October 2011; Accepted: 30 January 2012;
Published online: 14 February 2012.

Edited by:

Hermann L. Mueller, Klinikum Oldenburg GmbH, Germany

Reviewed by:

Roberto Salvatori, Johns Hospital University, USA
Fredric Wondisford, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA
Christian Roth, University of Washington School of Medicine, USA
Martin Wabitsch, University of Ulm, Germany

Copyright: © 2012 Bingham, Rose and Inge. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Thomas H. Inge, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA. e-mail: