Pituitary function after endonasal surgery for nonadenomatous parasellar tumors: Rathke's cleft cysts, craniopharyngiomas, and meningiomas

Surg Neurol. 2008 Nov;70(5):482-90; discussion 490-1. doi: 10.1016/j.surneu.2008.03.027. Epub 2008 May 14.


Background: Transsphenoidal surgery for parasellar nonadenomatous lesions has the possibility to either improve or worsen pituitary hormonal function. Herein we present the rates and risk factors of new hormonal failure and recovery in patients undergoing surgery for either an RCC, craniopharyngioma, or tuberculum sella meningioma.

Methods: All consecutive patients treated over an 8-year period by endonasal surgery for an RCC, craniopharyngioma, or tuberculum sella meningioma were analyzed. Patients treated with prior sellar radiotherapy were excluded. Preoperative and postoperative pituitary hormonal status was determined. Patient characteristics, tumor size, intraoperative and postoperative events, and extent of tumor resection were correlated with new or resolved hypopituitarism.

Results: In total, 50 patients with an RCC, 18 with a craniopharyngioma and 13 with tuberculum sellae meningioma, were analyzed. New anterior pituitary failure and permanent DI occurred as follows: in RCCs, 6% and 2%; in craniopharyngiomas, 31% and 39%; and in meningiomas, 9% and 0%. Overall, improved hormonal function occurred in 57% of patients with an RCC including recovery of one or more anterior axes in 9 (41%) of 22 patients and resolution of hyperprolactinemia in 12 (67%) of 18 patients; no patients with a craniopharyngioma or meningioma had resolution of hypopituitarism. Younger age was predictive of hormonal recovery in patients with an RCC (P = .026).

Conclusions: New hypopituitarism after transsphenoidal surgery occurs in approximately one third of patients with a craniopharyngioma and in less than 10% of patients with an RCC or suprasellar meningioma. Hormonal function improves in the majority of patients undergoing drainage of an RCC but is unlikely to occur after removal of a craniopharyngioma or suprasellar meningioma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / surgery*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Craniopharyngioma / metabolism
  • Craniopharyngioma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Meningioma / metabolism
  • Meningioma / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Function Tests
  • Pituitary Gland / physiopathology*
  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior / metabolism
  • Pituitary Hormones, Posterior / metabolism
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior
  • Pituitary Hormones, Posterior