Object: The results of surgical therapy for acromegaly were assessed using carefully conducted endocrinological testing in 115 patients who underwent transsphenoidal surgery from 1981 to 1995.
Methods: Ninety-nine of the 115 patients could be contacted for follow-up review; in 57 of the patients an endocrinological assessment was performed by the authors. Biochemical cure was strictly defined as a normalization of the insulin-like growth factor(IGF)-I level (obtained in 100 patients) and/or a basal or glucose-suppressed growth hormone (GH) level of 2 ng/ml or less. The mean length of follow up from transsphenoidal surgery to laboratory testing was 5.4 years with a maximum of 15.7 years. After transsphenoidal surgery alone, 61% of the patients achieved a biochemical remission; the remission rate was 88% for patients with microadenomas and 53% for those with macroadenomas. Tumor size and preoperative GH level tended to correlate negatively with outcome of surgery. Early postoperative GH level tended to correlate with long-term outcome; in cases in which the early postoperative GH level was lower than 3 ng/ml, the chance of long-term remission was 89%. Thirty-two patients received postoperative radiotherapy: in 10 (31%) of these patients the disease is currently in remission after surgery and radiotherapy only and in three others the disease is in remission with the addition of medical therapy. The overall complication rate was 6.9% with no cerebrospinal fluid leaks, meningitis, permanent diabetes insipidus, or new hypopituitarism. The overall recurrence rate was low at 5.4%.
Conclusions: This series shows, based on IFGF-I measurements and strict GH suppression criteria to define remission, that transsphenoidal surgery provides an excellent chance for long-term cure in patients with microadenomas. Surgery alone is successful in most patients with noninvasive macroadenomas; however, most patients with invasive macroadenomas will require adjunctive therapy. Recurrences are uncommon when biochemical remission is clearly documented postoperatively.