Decision-making in how to manage pituitary adenomas (PAs) in the elderly (age ≥ 65 years) can be challenging given the benign nature of these tumors and concerns about surgical morbidity in these patients. In this study involving a large multicenter national registry, the authors examined treatment trends and surgical outcomes in elderly compared to nonelderly patients.
The National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) was queried for adults aged ≥ 18 years with PA diagnosed by MRI (in observed cases) or pathology (in surgical cases) from 2004 to 2016. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to evaluate the prognostic impact of age and other covariates on 30- and 90-day postsurgical mortality (30M/90M), prolonged (≥ 5 days) length of inpatient hospital stay (LOS), and extent of resection.
A total of 96,399 cases met the study inclusion criteria, 27% of which were microadenomas and 73% of which were macroadenomas. Among these cases were 25,464 elderly patients with PA. Fifty-three percent of these elderly patients were treated with surgery, 1.9% underwent upfront radiotherapy, and 44.9% were observed without treatment. Factors associated with surgical treatment compared to observation included younger age, higher income, private insurance, higher Charlson-Deyo comorbidity (CD) score, larger tumor size, and receiving treatment at an academic hospital (each p ≤ 0.01). Elderly patients undergoing surgery had increased rates of 30M (1.4% vs 0.6%), 90M (2.8% vs 0.9%), prolonged LOS (26.1% vs 23.0%), and subtotal resection (27.2% vs 24.5%; each p ≤ 0.01) compared to those in nonelderly PA patients. On multivariate analysis, age, tumor size, and CD score were independently associated with worse postsurgical mortality. High-volume facilities (HVFs) had significantly better outcomes than low-volume facilities: 30M (0.9% vs 1.8%, p < 0.001), 90M (2.0% vs 3.5%, p < 0.001), and prolonged LOS (21.8% vs 30.3%, p < 0.001). A systematic literature review composed of 22 studies demonstrated an elderly PA patient mortality rate of 0.7%, which is dramatically lower than real-world NCDB outcomes and speaks to substantial selection bias in the previously published literature.
The study findings confirm that elderly patients with PA are at higher risk for postoperative mortality than younger patients. Surgical risk in this age group may have been previously underreported in the literature. Resection at HVFs better reflects these historical rates, which has important implications in elderly patients for whom surgery is being considered.