Visual recovery after transsphenoidal removal of pituitary adenomas

Neurosurgery. 1985 Sep;17(3):446-52. doi: 10.1227/00006123-198509000-00008.


We reviewed the records of 100 consecutive patients with histologically verified pituitary adenomas who underwent transsphenoidal decompression of the optic nerves and chiasm. The patients' ages ranged from 18 to 80 years, with a median of 52 years. Preoperatively, all patients had objective signs of visual acuity or field defects. Postoperatively, visual acuity was normal or improved in 79% of the eyes and the visual fields were normal or improved in 74%. The visual outcome (for both acuity and fields) was better in younger patients and those with a shorter duration of symptoms. Patients with lesser degrees of preoperative visual acuity compromise had better postoperative visual acuity outcome. However, the severity of preoperative visual field defects did not seem to predict postoperative field outcome, and even patients with severe preoperative field defects often had striking postoperative improvement. Patients who had undergone prior operation were less likely to have either visual acuity or visual field improvement after reoperation. Postoperative deterioration in visual acuity was noted in only 5 patients (6 eyes). Complications were few. There were 4 instances of cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea, but only 2 patients needed operative repair. There was no instance of permanent diabetes insipidus, although 17 patients developed transient diabetes insipidus. In most cases, visual improvement was sustained. The average duration of follow-up was 26 months. Three patients required a subsequent operation to correct visual loss in the immediate postoperative period, but only 1 patient has undergone late operation for recurrence of tumor. There was no operative mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsurgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / etiology
  • Ophthalmoplegia / etiology
  • Pituitary Diseases / etiology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields