Endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approach to large and giant pituitary adenomas: institutional experience and predictors of extent of resection

J Neurosurg. 2014 Jul;121(1):75-83. doi: 10.3171/2014.3.JNS131679. Epub 2014 May 2.


OBJECT.: While the use of endoscopic approaches has become increasingly accepted in the resection of pituitary adenomas, limited evidence exists regarding the success of this technique for patients with large and giant pituitary adenomas. This study reviews the outcomes of a large cohort of patients with large and giant pituitary adenomas who underwent endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery at the authors' institution and focuses on identifying factors that can predict extent of resection and hence aid in developing guidelines and indications for the use of endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery versus open craniotomy approaches to large and giant pituitary adenomas.

Methods: The authors reviewed 487 patients who underwent endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal resection of sellar masses. From this group, 73 consecutive patients with large and giant pituitary adenomas (defined as maximum diameter ≥ 3 cm and tumor volume ≥ 10 cm(3)) who underwent endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery between January 1, 2006, and June 6, 2012, were included in the study. Clinical presentation, radiological studies, laboratory investigations, tumor pathology data, clinical outcomes, extent of resection measured by volumetric analysis, and complications were analyzed.

Results: The mean preoperative tumor diameter in this series was 4.1 cm and the volume was 18 cm(3). The average resection rate was 82.9%, corresponding with a mean residual volume of 3 cm(3). Gross-total resection was achieved in 16 patients (24%), near-total in 11 (17%), subtotal in 24 (36%), and partial in 15 (23%). Seventy-three percent of patients experienced improvement in visual acuity, while 24% were unchanged. Visual fields were improved in 61.8% and unchanged in 5.5%. Overall, 27 patients (37%) experienced a total of 32 complications. The most common complications were sinusitis (14%) and CSF leak (10%). Six patients underwent subsequent radiation therapy because of aggressive tumor histopathology. No deaths occurred in this cohort of patients. Statistically significant predictors of extent of resection included highest Knosp grade (p = 0.001), preoperative tumor volume (p = 0.025), preoperative maximum tumor diameter (p = 0.002), hemorrhagic component (p = 0.027), posterior extension (p = 0.001), and sphenoid sinus invasion (p = 0.005).

Conclusions: Endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery is an effective treatment method for patients with large and giant pituitary adenomas, which results in high (> 80%) rates of resection and improvement in visual function. It is not associated with high rates of major complications and is safe when performed by experienced surgeons. The preoperative Knosp grade, tumor volume, tumor diameter, hemorrhagic components on MRI, posterior extension, and sphenoid sinus invasion may allow a prediction of extent of resection and in these patients a staged operation may be required to maximize extent of resection.

Keywords: CSF leak; FGFR4 = fibroblast growth factor receptor–4; GTR = gross-total resection; ICA = internal carotid artery; Knosp grade; SIADH = syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion; cavernous sinus; endoscopic; pituitary surgery; sellar.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery / adverse effects
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery / methods*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Nose / surgery*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sphenoid Bone / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult