Object: Acromegaly is a rare disease, usually caused by a growth hormone (GH)-producing pituitary adenoma. If untreated, severe cardiovascular, metabolic, cosmetic, and orthopedic disturbances will result. Surgery is generally recommended as the first-line treatment. Transsphenoidal surgical techniques were recently extended by the introduction of intraoperative MR (iMR) imaging. In the present study, the contribution of ultra-low-field (0.15-T) iMR imaging to tumor resection, complication avoidance, and endocrinological and neurological outcome was analyzed.
Methods: A series of 39 consecutive transsphenoidal iMR imaging-guided (using the PoleStar N20 device) surgical procedures performed between September 2005 and August 2009 for GH-producing pituitary adenomas was retrospectively analyzed. In addition to the patients' clinical data, the following criteria were evaluated independently: duration of surgery; length of hospital stay; endocrinological parameters; results of neurological examinations; and pre-, post-, and intraoperative MR imaging results.
Results: Thirty-seven patients with acromegaly underwent 39 transsphenoidal surgeries for pituitary adenomas. During a median follow-up period of 30 months (range 9-56 months), the remission rate was 73.5% in 34 patients with primary surgery and 20% in 5 cases with previous surgery; overall the remission rate was 66.7%. There were no serious postoperative complications. Detection of tumor remnant on iMR imaging led to a 5.1% increase in remission rate.
Conclusions: In this largest study to date of GH-producing pituitary adenomas in which iMR imaging-guided transsphenoidal surgery was analyzed, the results suggest that this method is a highly effective and safe treatment modality, even compared with previously published surgical series in which high-field iMR imaging was used. Limitations of iMR imaging are the detection of small residual tumor in the cavernous sinus and persisting disease that could not be observed, even on diagnostic high-field follow-up MR images. This points to a general limitation regarding remission rates that can be achieved using iMR imaging. Nevertheless, iMR imaging led to an increase of the remission rate in this study.