Fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for functioning pituitary adenomas: a retrospective comparison with traditional transsphenoidal microsurgery in the same institution

Surg Neurol. 2009 Oct;72(4):336-40. doi: 10.1016/j.surneu.2009.04.012. Epub 2009 Jul 14.


Background: The efficacy and the minimally invasive nature of the fully transnasal endoscopic procedure in the treatment of pituitary adenomas and other lesions of the sellar area have been widely reported in the literature. Many authors observed similar results in terms of the correction of hormonal hypersecretion in functioning pituitary adenomas using endoscopic endonasal surgery or the traditional microscopic technique. We report the endocrinologic outcome in 2 series of patients operated on at the same institution for functioning pituitary adenomas using these 2 different techniques.

Methods: This study includes 2 successive series of 60 consecutive patients presenting with a hormonally active pituitary adenoma operated on by the same surgeon. The surgical results obtained in the most recently operated group using a fully endoscopic endonasal technique were compared with those obtained previously using the traditional microsurgical transsphenoidal procedure. The classification of tumors into 4 grades according to Hardy was based on modern MRI and intraoperative findings.

Results: The overall remission rate of hypersecretion was 63% in the endoscopic group compared with 50% in the microsurgical group. The most obvious difference between the 2 groups was observed in noninvasive macroadenomas. In this specific grade of tumors, the remission rate of hypersecretion obtained using endoscopy was 78% compared with 43% using microsurgery. The endocrinologic results achieved for microadenomas were similar in the 2 groups. Postoperative CSF leaks occurred more frequently (6 cases) in the endoscopic group.

Conclusions: In our experience, fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for functioning pituitary adenomas leads to a better endocrinologic outcome for noninvasive macroadenomas compared to the traditional microsurgical technique. However, morbidity with the endoscopic technique was higher in terms of the rate of postoperative CSF leaks.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / physiopathology
  • Adenoma / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea / etiology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Endoscopy / adverse effects
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Endoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / adverse effects
  • Microsurgery / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sphenoid Bone / anatomy & histology
  • Sphenoid Bone / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Pituitary Hormones