✓ Microadenomas of the pituitary vary in size, particularly those related to Cushing's disease. They are often not visualized on preoperative magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and may be difficult to find during surgical exploration of the pituitary. To enhance intraoperative localization of pituitary adenomas, we assessed the feasibility of using ultrasound to detect and localize pituitary tumors. Intraoperative ultrasound (IS) in the axial and sagittal planes was performed with an Intrascan system using a 12-MHz mechanically oscillating, end-firing transducer. Interpretation of the scans was performed by two individuals, who were usually blinded to the results of preoperative MR imaging or petrosal sinus sampling.
Twenty-eight patients were examined. Eighteen of these patients had microadenomas (1.5–7 mm), all with Cushing's disease; nine had macroadenomas (10–20 mm), three of which were adrenocorticotropic hormone—secreting, three growth hormone—secreting, two thyroid-stimulating hormone—secreting, and one nonfunctioning; and one patient had an intrasellar craniopharyngioma. Normal sellar and parasellar structures, such as intrapituitary cysts, the intracavernous carotid arteries, and the diaphragma sella were easily visualized. Twenty-three of the 28 tumors, including 13 of the 18 microadenomas, were detected on IS (82% sensitivity). Tumors were seen as hyperechoic masses in 19 patients, mixed echogenicity in three, and isoechoic in one. In most macroadenomas IS allowed visualization of the interface between the tumor and the normal pituitary gland. These results indicate the potential of IS to aid the intraoperative localization and definition of pituitary tumors.