Surgical Strategies in the Treatment of Giant Pituitary Adenomas

Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2024 Jan 1;26(1):4-15. doi: 10.1227/ons.0000000000000896. Epub 2023 Sep 1.


Background and objectives: The management of giant pituitary adenomas (GPAs) is challenging due to associated endocrinopathies and the close proximity of these tumors to critical structures, such as the optic nerves, structures of the cavernous sinus, and hypothalamus. The objective of this review article was to summarize the current management strategies for giant pituitary adenomas, including the role of open and endoscopic surgical approaches and the role of medical and radiation therapy in conjunction with surgery.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of GPAs operated at our institute between January 2010 and March 2023. Surgical approaches, extent of resection, and associated complications were documented. Furthermore, we conducted a thorough literature review to identify relevant studies published in the past decade, which were incorporated along with insights gained from our institutional case series of GPAs to analyze and integrate both the existing knowledge base and our institution's firsthand experience in the management of GPAs.

Results: A total of 46 giant pituitary adenomas (GPAs) were operated on, using various surgical approaches. Transsphenoidal approach was used in 25 cases and a staged approach using transsphenoidal and pterional was used in 15 cases. Other approaches included transcortical-transventricular, transcallosal, pterional/orbitozygomatic, and subfrontal approaches. Complications and technical nuances were reported.

Conclusion: The management of giant pituitary adenomas remains complex, often involving several modalities-open or endoscopic resection, radiosurgery, and medical management of both the tumor and associated endocrinopathies. Surgical resections are often challenging procedures that require careful consideration of several factors, including patient characteristics, tumor location, and size, and the experience and skill of the surgical team.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma* / pathology
  • Endoscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / complications
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome