Medical Definition of Hamartoma, hypothalamic

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Hamartoma, hypothalamic: A benign tumor of the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls body temperature, hunger, and thirst. (In technical terms, the hypothalamus lies beneath a structure known as the thalamus and forms the floor of the third ventricle of the brain.)

A small hypothalamic hamartoma can cause the patient to feel as though they have to laugh. The tumor also causes the patient to have mild epileptic seizures. The seizures can usually be controlled with medication; the laugh cannot.

Larger hypothalamic hamartomas often cause more serious symptoms, including changes in mental ability and behavioral problems.

Patients with possible hypothalamic hamartomas should have MRI scans, which should be thoroughly scrutinized, since the growths are small and sometimes difficult to detect.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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