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Jason P. Sheehan, Douglas Kondziolka, John Flickinger, and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

Nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas comprise approximately 30% of all pituitary tumors. The purpose of this retrospective study was to evaluate the efficacy and role of gamma knife surgery (GKS) in the treatment of these lesions.

Methods

The authors conducted a review of cases in which GKS was performed at the University of Pittsburgh between 1987 and 2001. Forty-six patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas and with at least 6 months of follow-up data were identified. In 41 of these patients some form of prior treatment such as transsphenoidal resection, craniotomy and resection, or conventional radiation therapy had been conducted. Five patients were deemed ineligible for microsurgery, and GKS served as the primary treatment modality. Endocrinological, ophthalmological, and radiological responses were evaluated. The mean radiation dose to the margin was 16 Gy.

In all patients with microadenomas and 91% of those with macroadenomas tumor control was demonstrated after radiosurgery. Gamma knife surgery had essentially equal efficacy in terms of achieving tumor control in cases of adenomas with cavernous sinus invasion and suprasellar extension. No new endocrinopathies were noted following radiosurgery. In two patients, however, tumor growth and decline in visual function occurred.

Conclusions

Gamma knife surgery is safe and effective in treating nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. Radiosurgery may serve as a primary treatment modality in some or as a salvage treatment in others. Treatment must be tailored to meet the patient's symptoms, overall health, and tumor morphometry.