Challenging Knosp high-grade pituitary adenomas

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OBJECTIVE

Parasellar growth is one of the most important prognostic variables of pituitary adenoma surgery, with adenomas regarded as not completely resectable if they invade the cavernous sinus (CS) but potentially curable if they displace CS structures. This study was conducted to correlate surgical treatment options and outcomes to the different biological behaviors (invasion vs displacement) of adenomas with parasellar extension into the superior or inferior CS compartments or completely encasing the carotid artery (Knosp high grades 3A, 3B, and 4).

METHODS

This was a retrospective cohort analysis of 106 consecutive patients with Knosp high-grade pituitary adenomas with parasellar extension who underwent surgery via a primary endoscopic transsphenoidal approach between 2003 and 2017. Biological tumor characteristics (surgical status of invasiveness and tumor texture, 2017 WHO classification, proliferation rate), extent of resection, and complication rate were correlated with parasellar extension grades 3A, 3B, and 4 on preoperative MRI studies.

RESULTS

Invasiveness was significantly less common in grade 3A (44%) than in grade 3B (72%, p = 0.037) and grade 4 (100%, p < 0.001) adenomas. Fibrous tumor texture was significantly more common in grade 4 (52%) compared to grade 3A (20%, p = 0.002), but not compared to grade 3B (28%) adenomas. Functioning macroadenomas had a significantly higher rate of invasiveness than nonfunctioning adenomas (91% vs 55%, p = 0.002). Mean proliferation rate assessed by MIB-1 was > 3% in all groups but without significant difference between the groups (grade 3A, 3.2%; 3B, 3.9%; 4, 3.7%). Rates of endocrine remission/gross-total resection were significantly higher in grade 3A (64%) than in grade 3B (33%, p = 0.021) and grade 4 (0%, p < 0.001) adenomas. In terms of complication rates, no significant difference was observed between grades.

CONCLUSIONS

According to the authors’ data, the biological behavior of pituitary adenomas varies significantly between parasellar extension patterns. Adenomas with extension into the superior CS compartment have a lower rate of invasive growth than adenomas extending into the inferior CS compartment or encasing the carotid artery. Consequently, a significantly higher rate of remission can be achieved in grade 3A than in grade 3B and grade 4 adenomas. Therefore, the distinction into grades 3A, 3B, and 4 is of importance for prediction of adenoma invasion and surgical treatment considerations.

ABBREVIATIONS CS = cavernous sinus; ER = endocrine remission; GTR = gross-total resection; ICA = internal carotid artery.

Article Information

Correspondence Stefan Wolfsberger: Medical University Vienna, Austria. stefan.wolfsberger@meduniwien.ac.at.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online May 31, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.3.JNS19367.

Disclosures Stefan Wolfsberger is currently an educational consultant for Medtronic Surgical Technologies.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

Headings

Figures

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    Pituitary adenoma with extension into the superior CS compartment. Coronal T1-weighted contrast-enhanced MR images. A: Preoperative scan depicting adenoma extension into the left superior CS compartment corresponding to grade 3A. Note the consecutive stretching of the superior CS compartment compared to the contralateral side. Intraoperatively, the medial CS wall was found to be smooth and without signs of adenoma invasion. Histology revealed a mammosomatotroph adenoma with MIB-1 of 2.8%. B: Early postoperative imaging after 3 months confirming complete adenoma removal from within the superior CS compartment. C: Follow-up imaging 5 years after surgery reveals an enlarging small supracavernous adenoma remnant adjacent to the oculomotor nerve.

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    Pituitary adenoma with extension into the inferior CS compartment. Coronal T1-weighted contrast-enhanced MR images. A: Preoperative scan with the adenoma extending into the left inferior CS compartment corresponding to grade 3B. Note the upward shift of the intracavernous carotid artery. Intraoperatively, the medial CS wall was found to be invaded by adenoma tissue that changed its texture from endosellar soft to intracavernous fibrous. Histology revealed a silent corticotroph adenoma with MIB-1 of 5.8%. B: Early postoperative imaging after 3 months confirming subtotal removal with a remnant in the left inferior CS compartment. C: Follow-up imaging 1 year after surgery shows unequivocal enlargement of the adenoma remnant. Surgical tumor reduction was initiated, followed by stereotactic radiosurgery (Gamma Knife).

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