Brain surgery eases compulsive eating in 10-year-old

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Removal of a rare type of benign brain tumour helped bring a young girl's compulsive eating under control, doctors report.

The 10-year-old had what's known as a hypothalamic hamartoma - a tumour in or around the brain's hypothalamus. One of the symptoms of this type of tumour is extremely early (precocious) puberty, as well as compulsive eating and excessive weight gain.

As reported online in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Paediatrics, by age 10 the girl already weighed 227 pounds and was gaining an average of five more pounds each month. Medication and counselling did nothing to curb her overeating.

First-of-a-kind surgery

Despite the fact that there was no record of it having been done before, neurosurgeons at the University of Texas-Houston and Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston decided to remove the girl's hypothalamic hamartoma in an effort to curb her overeating. The doctors called it a "last-ditch effort."

"The decision to proceed with this surgery was undertaken with great thought and after numerous discussions with the patient's family," Dr David Sandberg, one of the study authors, said.

"We were cautious about proceeding with a major operation in which the probability of success was completely unknown."

However, the surgery went well, the girl's appetite immediately lessened and she began eating smaller portions. Eighteen months after the surgery, her weight was still the same as it was before the operation. But it no longer increased, which was the goal of the surgery.

"The patient, her family, and treating physicians were all delighted with the outcome," Sandberg said.

More information

You can find out more about this type of brain tumour at Hope for Hypothalamic Hamartomas.

(Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

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