Endoscopic surgery is an effective treatment strategy for pituitary adenomas; however, intrinsic tumor properties such as tumor consistency can challenge or preclude gross-total resection. Preoperative characterization of tumor consistency may help to guide the surgical approach and to predict the extent of resection that is possible. Advanced radiological modalities such as 7T diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) may be useful in probing biological tissue properties of pituitary adenomas. The objective of the present study was to examine 7T DWI as a novel method of measuring the consistency of pituitary adenomas.
Thirteen patients with pituitary macroadenomas underwent 7T MRI, including a DWI image acquisition. Tumor apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was normalized to the adjacent temporal gray matter ADC. All patients underwent resection, and a single neurosurgeon blinded to ADC values rated tumor firmness from 1 (least firm) to 5 (most firm) using objective criteria. The tumor specimens were evaluated histopathologically for cellularity, collagen content, and vascularity by a neuropathologist who was also blinded to ADC values. The tumor ADC was correlated with intraoperative consistency rating, histopathology, and extent of resection. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses were performed to identify thresholds to predict tumor consistency.
Corrected ADC values were significantly correlated with both tumor firmness (r = −0.60, p = 0.029) and the extent of trichrome staining (r = −0.72, p = 0.009) such that greater ADC values were associated with both decreased tumor firmness and decreased collagen staining. Correlations between ADC values and tumor vascularity were not significant (r = −0.09, p = 0.78). Corrected ADC values in totally resected tumors (1.54) were greater than those in subtotally resected tumors (0.85) (p = 0.02), and ADC values were greater with moderate tumor cellularity (1.51) than with high tumor cellularity (0.8) (p = 0.035). There was a trend-level association for partial resections to exhibit greater tumor firmness rating (3 vs 1.7; p = 0.051). Finally, the degree of trichrome staining positively correlated with tumor firmness (r = 0.60, p = 0.04). The optimal threshold for predicting intraoperative consistency rating was an ADC ratio of 0.87 (sensitivity 80%, specificity 100%, area under the curve [AUC] 0.90; p = 0.043). The optimal cutoff for distinguishing the extent of resection was 1.19 (sensitivity 85.7%, specificity 83.3% AUC 0.833; p = 0.046).
The authors’ results suggest that a high-resolution ADC of pituitary adenomas is a sensitive measure of tumor consistency. 7T DWI may hold clinical value in the preoperative workup and surgical management of patients with pituitary macroadenomas.