Surgical outcome after repeated transsphenoidal surgery in acromegaly

J Neurosurg. 1996 Aug;85(2):239-47. doi: 10.3171/jns.1996.85.2.0239.


Transsphenoidal selective adenomectomy is the most efficient primary treatment for acromegaly. However, management of persistent or recurrent disease remains controversial. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the early and long-term efficacy and safety of a second transsphenoidal surgery performed in those cases. The results of a retrospective study of 16 patients undergoing reoperation by the senior author (J.H.) between 1970 and 1991 are reported. Reoperation was performed for persistent or progressive acromegaly in 11 patients, visual impairment in four, and disease recurrence in one. Normalization of growth hormone (GH) was defined as a basal GH level of less than 5 micrograms/L and suppression to less than 2 micrograms/L during the oral glucose tolerance test. Long-term follow-up data were available in 15 patients. The second transsphenoidal surgery induced a greater than 50% decrease of GH level in 11 patients. Three (19%) of 16 patients were cured according to the authors' criteria and remained so after 2, 7, and 20 years. Two more patients had a postoperative basal GH level of less than 5 micrograms/L but incomplete suppression during the oral glucose tolerance test. Thus, a total of five patients (31%) achieved a basal GH of less than 5 micrograms/L. One other patient who had no initial improvement after the second transphenoidal surgery had spontaneous normalization of his GH level after 13 years. The following complications of the second surgery occurred in three patients: one subarachnoid hemorrhage, two new visual field defects, one cranial nerve palsy, and one meningitis. Moreover, 10 patients (62.5%) developed one or more new pituitary hormone deficiencies. In conclusion, reoperation for persistent or recurrent acromegaly has low success and high complication rates. According to the authors' experience, this procedure should be reserved for patients unresponsive to other forms of therapy or with progressive visual impairment despite medical therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Acromegaly / blood
  • Acromegaly / physiopathology
  • Acromegaly / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Endocrine Glands / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Growth Hormone