Pituitary adenomas in elderly patients: clinical and surgical outcome analysis in a large series

Endocrine. 2019 Sep;65(3):637-645. doi: 10.1007/s12020-019-01959-0. Epub 2019 Jun 17.


Purpose: The increased life expectancy in the general population is causing rapid growth of the number of elderly patients. Pituitary adenomas (PAs) are one of those tumors whose incidence increases with age. Pituitary surgery in elderly has usually been considered riskier than in the younger population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the surgical outcome of a large series of patients who underwent transsphenoidal surgery for PAs.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed a series of patients who underwent transsphenoidal surgery for PAs in our institution. Inclusion criteria were: 65 years of age or more, and no previous pituitary surgery. Surgical outcomes of patients aged <70 years (group 1) was compared to those aged 70 years or more (group 2) at the time of surgery.

Results: A total of 336 patients met the inclusion criteria. Clinically, 230 (68.5%) patients had a non-functioning PAs. Among the remaining 106 patients with a hormone-secreting PA, 57 (53.8%) had acromegaly, 39 (36.8%) Cushing's disease, 5 patients (4.7%) had a prolactinoma, and 5 a thyrotropin-secreting PA (4.7%). Mortality rate was 1.5%. Groups 1 and 2 showed no significantly different surgery-related complication, visual recovery, radical surgery, and remission rates.

Conclusions: Surgical management of PAs in the elderly has been considered riskier than in the younger population. Our results demonstrated that transsphenoidal surgery is a safe and effective treatment for PAs. No statistically significant differences in terms of outcome were found in two group ages, showing that, when clinically indicated, transsphenoidal surgery can be performed even in very old subjects.

Keywords: Aging; Pituitary adenoma; Pituitary surgery; Transsphenoidal surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / surgery*
  • Adenoma / therapy*
  • Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Pituitary Gland / surgery
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sphenoid Bone / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome