Objective: Transsphenoidal surgery is the preferred treatment modality for adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas. In the past 2 decades, several institutions in the United States and Europe have reported remission rates of 70 to 85% after transsphenoidal surgery for treatment of Cushing's disease. We analyzed our postoperative results for a large cohort of patients with Cushing's disease.
Methods: Eighty-two patients with adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting adenomas (79 microadenomas and 3 macroadenomas) underwent transsphenoidal surgery between 1990 and 2000. Seventy-seven patients were surgically treated for the first time, and 13 patients underwent reoperations (5 had undergone the first operation elsewhere) because of previous surgical failure (10 patients) or recurrence (3 patients). The mean postoperative follow-up period was 4.2 +/- 2.8 years. Biochemical remission was defined as postoperative normalization of elevated 24-hour urinary free cortisol secretion and suppression of morning cortisol levels with 1 mg of dexamethasone.
Results: Remission was achieved for 78% of all patients after one operation and for 62% of patients who underwent a second operation. The recurrence rate was 5%. Ten patients did not exhibit a visible tumor on magnetic resonance imaging scans, and the other patients were divided according to adenoma size (2-5 or 6-10 mm). Remission rates were similar for the three groups of patients (78-80%). Pituitary tumor stained for adrenocorticotropic hormone was detected in 78% of resected pituitary tissue specimens obtained from patients who achieved remission, compared with 53% from patients who experienced surgical failure (P = 0.06).
Conclusion: Our series demonstrates the efficacy of transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing's disease resulting from pituitary microadenomas. Microadenoma size had no effect on the remission rate. Reoperations are indicated after initial surgical failures.