Overview of vascular complications of pituitary surgery with special emphasis on unexpected abnormality

Pituitary. 2010 Jun;13(2):160-7. doi: 10.1007/s11102-009-0198-7.


Arterial bleeding during transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenoma is known complication. This usually happens due to rupture of intracavernous carotid or delayed hemorrhage due to the carotico-cavernous fistula and/or pseudoaneurysm. There is also evidence that cavernous carotid aneurysms may occur with pituitary tumors, yet largest series failed to demonstrate any link between aneurysm formation and pituitary tumors. Usually such an aneurysm rupture results in formation of carotico-cavernous fistula. However, pituitary apoplexy and even epistaxis have been reported. In this paper we present a patient with recurrent pituitary adenoma and cavernous carotid artery aneurysm, which caused significant hemorrhage during the surgery. Although retrospective analysis of MRI disclosed that the patient had the aneurysm before the first surgery, it remained silent until the second operation. Therefore neurosurgeons should be very susceptive to any signal changes on preoperative MR images, especially in recurrent cases, where normal anatomical relations are disturbed by fibrotic tissue. Also, we reviewed the vascular complication of pituitary surgery based on the literature.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome