Cerebral vasospasm after transsphenoidal resection of pituitary macroadenomas: report of 3 cases and review of the literature

Neurosurgery. 2012 Sep;71(1 Suppl Operative):173-80; discussion 180-1. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31824aae21.


Background: Delayed ischemic events due to vasospasm are a well-known complication of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Severe vasospasm in other neurosurgical settings is not as well recognized. Delay in diagnosis and treatment of vasospasm in such settings may be associated with significant neurological morbidity.

Objective: To present three cases of symptomatic delayed cerebral vasospasm after transsphenoidal resection of pituitary macroadenomas.

Methods: Transsphenoidal resection in all cases was complicated by peritumoral hemorrhage with extension into the subarachnoid space. Two of the 3 patients required re-operation to evacuate the hematoma in the tumor bed because of progressive worsening neurological deficits.

Results: All 3 patients developed vasospasm of the intracranial vessels, starting as early as postoperative day 5 and appearing as late as postoperative day 10. Comparisons to the non-vascular pre-operative magnetic resonance imaging studies confirmed the "de-novo" nature of the vasospasm based on the caliber of the flow voids.

Conclusion: Transsphenoidal surgery complicated by peritumoral hemorrhage is associated with a significant risk of neurological morbidity because of delayed cerebral vasospasm. Early recognition and management according to guidelines used for postaneurysmal SAH may help to improve outcomes in these patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / complications
  • Adenoma / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / complications
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Vasospasm, Intracranial / diagnosis
  • Vasospasm, Intracranial / etiology*