Early hormonal recovery following endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for silent non-functioning pituitary adenomas with hormone dysfunction

J Neurooncol. 2021 Jun;153(2):343-350. doi: 10.1007/s11060-021-03774-y. Epub 2021 May 17.


Purpose: The role of transsphenoidal surgery in the recovery of preexisting hormone dysfunction from pituitary tumors remains controversial. This study aimed to investigate the incidence of hormone dysfunction among asymptomatic non-functioning pituitary adenomas and their recovery following endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery.

Methods: Eligibility criteria included age under 80 years, presence of a non-functioning pituitary adenoma compressing the normal gland resulting in deviation of the stalk, absence of visual symptoms, and availability for regular follow-up using MRI and pre- and post-operative endocrinological assessments. 182 patients with silent non-functioning pituitary adenomas were included in this study between March 2014 and December 2018. All patients underwent endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery and complete hormonal evaluation, with basal hormone assays and a combined pituitary function test before and after surgery until the end of last follow-up.

Results: Preoperative assessment of hormonal function revealed that 124 of 182 patients (68.1%) had at least a single hormone dysfunction preoperatively. Among these, 61 of 124 (49.2%) had a dysfunction in a single axis, and 63 (50.8%) had a hormone dysfunction in two or more axes. Overall, the median endocrinological follow-up duration was 15.0 months (6-57 months). At 1 month following surgery, 91 patients (73.4%) with hormone dysfunction experienced improvement in at least a single hormone axis. Prolactin was the most common hormone among those that recovered at the last follow up (92.8% improvement) followed by growth hormone (GH, 50.0%), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH, 50.0%), gonadotropin (Gn, 46.9%), and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH, 45.0%). Time to recovery varied from 1.1 months (for prolactin) to 2.2 months (for gonadotropin, and ACTH). In patients with preoperative deficiency in GH, and ACTH, postoperative transient diabetes insipidus was associated with poor recovery (GH: HR = 0.50, p = 0.048; ACTH: HR = 0.39, p = 0.023).

Conclusions: Non-functioning pituitary adenomas with silent hormone dysfunction are often overlooked by clinicians and patients. We suggest that even silent hormone dysfunction in patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas can be improved with effective surgical decompression and these tumors may be potential indications of endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery.

Keywords: Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery; Hormonal recovery; Hypopituitarism.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma* / complications
  • Adenoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma* / surgery
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Aged
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Humans
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / complications
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Prolactin
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin