Loss of pituitary function due to nonfunctional pituitary adenoma (NFPA) may be due to compression of the pituitary gland. It has been proposed that the size of the gland and relative perioperative gland expansion may relate to recovery of pituitary function, but the extent of this is unclear. This study aims to assess temporal changes in hormonal function after transsphenoidal resection of NFPA and the relationship between gland reexpansion and endocrine recovery.
Patients who underwent endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery by a single surgeon for resection of a nonfunctional macroadenoma were selected for inclusion. Patients with prior pituitary surgery or radiosurgery were excluded. Patient characteristics and endocrine function were extracted by chart review. Volumetric segmentation of the pre- and postoperative (≥ 6 months) pituitary gland was performed using preoperative and long-term postoperative MR images. The relationship between endocrine function over time and clinical attributes, including gland volume, were examined.
One hundred sixty eligible patients were identified, of whom 47.5% were female; 56.9% of patients had anterior pituitary hormone deficits preoperatively. The median tumor diameter and gland volume preoperatively were 22.5 mm (interquartile range [IQR] 18.0–28.8 mm) and 0.18 cm3 (IQR 0.13–0.28 cm3), respectively. In 55% of patients, endocrine function normalized or improved in their affected axes by median last clinical follow-up of 24.4 months (IQR 3.2–51.2 months). Older age, male sex, and larger tumor size were associated with likelihood of endocrine recovery. Median time to recovery of any axis was 12.2 months (IQR 2.5–23.9 months); hypothyroidism was the slowest axis to recover. Although the gland significantly reexpanded from preoperatively (0.18 cm3, IQR 0.13–0.28 cm3) to postoperatively (0.33 cm3, IQR 0.23–0.48 cm3; p < 0.001), there was no consistent association with improved endocrine function.
Recovery of endocrine function can occur several months and even years after surgery, with more than 50% of patients showing improved or normalized function. Tumor size, and not gland volume, was associated with preserved or recovered endocrine function.