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Carlo Serra, Victor E. Staartjes, Nicolai Maldaner, David Holzmann, Michael B. Soyka, Marco Gilone, Christoph Schmid, Oliver Tschopp and Luca Regli

OBJECTIVE

The “chopsticks” technique is a 3-instrument, 2-hand mononostril technique that has been recently introduced in endoscopic neurosurgery. It allows a dynamic surgical view controlled by one surgeon only while keeping bimanual dissection. Being a mononostril approach, it requires manipulation of the mucosa of one nasal cavity only. The rationale of the technique is to reduce nasal morbidity without compromising surgical results and complication rates. There are, however, no data available on its results in endoscopic surgery (transsphenoidal surgery [TSS]) for pituitary adenoma.

METHODS

The authors performed a cohort analysis of prospectively collected data on 144 patients (156 operations) undergoing TSS using the chopsticks technique with 3T intraoperative MRI. All patients had at least 3 months of postoperative neurosurgical, endocrinological, and rhinological follow-up (Sino-Nasal Outcome Test–20 [SNOT-20] and Sniffin’ Sticks). The surgical technique is described, and the achieved gross-total resection (GTR) and extent of resection (EOR) together with patients’ clinical outcomes and complications are descriptively reported.

RESULTS

On 3-month postoperative MRI, GTR was achieved in 71.2% of patients with a mean EOR of 96.7%. GTR was the surgical goal in 122 of 156 cases and was achieved in 106 of 122 (86.9%), with a mean EOR of 98.7% (median 100%, range 49%–100%). There was no surgical mortality. At a median follow-up of 15 months (range 3–70 months), there was 1 permanent neurological deficit. As of the last available follow-up, 11.5% of patients had a new pituitary single-axis deficit, whereas 26.3% had improvement in endocrinological function. Three patients had new postoperative hyposmia. One patient had severe impairment of sinonasal function (SNOT-20 score > 40). The operation resulted in endocrine remission in 81.1% of patients with secreting adenomas.

CONCLUSIONS

This study shows that the chopsticks technique confers resection and morbidity results that compare favorably with literature reports of TSS. This technique permits a single surgeon to perform effective endoscopic bimanual dissection through a single nostril, reducing manipulation of healthy tissue and thereby possibly minimizing surgical morbidity.

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Alexander F. Haddad, Jacob S. Young, Taemin Oh, Matheus P. Pereira, Rushikesh S. Joshi, Kaitlyn M. Pereira, Robert C. Osorio, Kevin C. Donohue, Zain Peeran, Sweta Sudhir, Saket Jain, Angad Beniwal, Ashley S. Chopra, Narpal S. Sandhu, Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Sandeep Kunwar, Ivan H. El-Sayed, José Gurrola II, Lewis S. Blevins Jr. and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas present without biochemical or clinical signs of hormone excess and are the second most common type of pituitary adenomas. The 2017 WHO classification scheme of pituitary adenomas differentiates null-cell adenomas (NCAs) and silent gonadotroph adenomas (SGAs). The present study sought to highlight the differences in patient characteristics and clinical outcomes between NCAs and SGAs.

METHODS

The records of 1166 patients who underwent transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenoma between 2012 and 2019 at a single institution were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics and clinical outcomes were collected.

RESULTS

Of the overall pituitary adenoma cohort, 12.8% (n = 149) were SGAs and 9.2% (n = 107) NCAs. NCAs were significantly more common in female patients than SGAs (61.7% vs 26.8%, p < 0.001). There were no differences in patient demographics, initial tumor size, or perioperative and short-term clinical outcomes. There was no significant difference in the amount of follow-up between patients with NCAs and those with SGAs (33.8 months vs 29.1 months, p = 0.237). Patients with NCAs had significantly higher recurrence (p = 0.021), adjuvant radiation therapy usage (p = 0.002), and postoperative diabetes insipidus (p = 0.028). NCA pathology was independently associated with tumor recurrence (HR 3.64, 95% CI 1.07–12.30; p = 0.038), as were cavernous sinus invasion (HR 3.97, 95% CI 1.04–15.14; p = 0.043) and anteroposterior dimension of the tumor (HR 2.23, 95% CI 1.09–4.59; p = 0.030).

CONCLUSIONS

This study supports the definition of NCAs and SGAs as separate subgroups of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas, and it highlights significant differences in long-term clinical outcomes, including tumor recurrence and the associated need for adjuvant radiation therapy, as well as postoperative diabetes insipidus. The authors also provide insight into independent risk factors for these outcomes in the adenoma population studied, providing clinicians with additional predictors of patient outcomes. Follow-up studies will hopefully uncover mechanisms of biological aggressiveness in NCAs and associated molecular targets.

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Michael D. Cusimano, Tony Q. Huang, Anthony Marchie, Harley S. Smyth and Kalman Kovacs

OBJECTIVE

Cushing’s disease (CD) patients experience a range of debilitating symptoms that impair quality of life (QOL) as assessed using generic measures. These generic measures are inadequate to capture the disease-specific burden of illness. The development of the CD-specific QOL-CD measure of QOL using items generated by CD patients and healthcare professionals will provide a holistic assessment of patient outcomes and efficacy of novel therapies.

METHODS

A total of 96 CD patients participated. A list of 177 items (version 1.0) was generated by treated CD patients (n = 9), caregivers (n = 2), healthcare providers (n = 7), and results of a MEDLINE search. Item reduction was performed through content analysis and dual scaling. Patients’ rating of importance was incorporated to reduce to a final version of 56 items (version 3.0). Evidence for test-retest reliability was sought through administering the QOL-CD 1 week apart and Cronbach’s α of each subscale. Construct validity was assessed through extreme group analysis and comparison with the normal Canadian population. Concurrent validity was sought through comparison with the SF-36, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Brain (FACT-Br), and Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS). Perioperative testing was conducted on CD patients (n = 25) against nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma controls (n = 25) through pre- and postoperative testing.

RESULTS

A total of 96 CD patients (86 females and 10 males; mean age 45.23 ± 14.16 years) participated. The QOL-CD was feasible (mean completion time 15 minutes, with 70% believing accurate capture of QOL), reliable (CD 1 week apart: r = 0.86; control 1 week apart: r = 0.83; Cronbach’s α: general health = 0.73, emotional health = 0.85, physical health = 0.78, mental status = 0.82, social well-being = 0.63, medical treatment = 0.54), and valid (extreme group testing p < 0.001; SF-36 and QOL-CD general health: r = 0.56, social well-being: r = 0.21, emotional health: r = 0.61, total score: r = 0.58; FACT-Br and QOL-CD physical health: r = 0.47, social well-being: r = 0.21, emotional health: r = 0.34, total score: r = 0.68; KPS and QOL-CD general health: r = 0.32, total score: r = 0.14). Perioperative testing of CD patients (n = 25) demonstrated improvement in all subscales postoperatively, with a significant difference in emotional health (p < 0.001) and physical health (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The QOL-CD questionnaire has been developed for patients with CD and has demonstrated evidence for validity and reliability.

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João Vitor Gerdulli Tamanini, Mateus Dal Fabbro, Leandro Luiz Lopes de Freitas, José Vassallo, Luciano de Souza Queiroz and Fabio Rogerio

OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to evaluate clinical and laboratory data from pituitary adenoma (PA) patients with functioning PA (associated with acromegaly [n = 10] or Cushing disease [n = 10]) or nonfunctioning PA (NFPA; n = 10) that were classified according to 2017 WHO criteria (based on the expression of the transcription factors pituitary-specific positive transcription factor 1 [Pit-1], a transcription factor member of the T-box family [Tpit], and steroidogenic factor 1 [SF-1]) and to assess the immunostaining results for growth hormone (GH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in the corresponding tumors.

METHODS

Clinical and laboratory data were collected retrospectively. The percentage of tumoral cells positive for Pit-1, Tpit, or SF-1 was assessed and ImageJ software was used to evaluate immunopositivity in PAs with 2 different antibodies against GH (primary antibody 1 [AbGH-1] and primary antibody 2 [AbGH-2]) and 2 different antibodies against ACTH (primary antibody 1 [AbACTH-1] and primary antibody 2 [AbACTH-2]).

RESULTS

Cells with positive Pit-1 staining were more frequently observed in lesions from patients with acromegaly (acromegaly group) than in lesions from patients with Cushing disease (Cushing group; p < 0.001) and those from patients with NFPA (NFPA group; p < 0.001). The percentage of Tpit-positive cells was higher in the Cushing group than in the acromegaly (p < 0.001) and NFPA (p < 0.001) groups. No difference was detected regarding SF-1 frequency among all groups (p = 0.855). In acromegalic individuals, GH immunostaining levels varied depending on the antibody employed, and only one of the antibodies (AbGH-2) yielded higher values in comparison with the values for NFPA patients (p < 0.001). For all of the antibodies employed, no significant correlations were detected between GH tissue expression and the laboratory data (serum GH vs AbGH-1, p = 0.933; serum GH vs AbGH-2, p = 0.853; serum insulin-like growth factor–1 [IGF-1] vs AbGH-1, p = 0.407; serum IGF-1 vs AbGH-2, p = 0.881). In the Cushing group data, both antibodies showed similar ACTH tissue expression, which was higher than that obtained in the NFPA group (p < 0.001). There were no significant associations between ACTH immunohistochemical findings and ACTH serum levels (serum ACTH vs AbACTH-1, p = 0.651; serum ACTH vs AbACTH-2, p = 0.987). However, ACTH immunostaining evaluated with AbACTH-1 showed a significant correlation with 24-hour urinary cortisol (24-hour cortisol vs AbACTH-1, p = 0.047; 24-hour cortisol vs AbACTH-2, p = 0.071).

CONCLUSIONS

Immunostaining for Pit-1 and Tpit accurately identified lesions associated with acromegaly and Cushing disease, respectively. Conversely, SF-1 did not differentiate NFPA from lesions of the other two groups. Regarding hormonal tissue detection, results of the current investigation indicate that different antibodies may lead not only to divergent immunohistochemical results but also to lack of correlation with laboratory findings. Finally, PA classification based on transcription factor expression (Pit-1, Tpit, and SF-1), as proposed by the 2017 WHO classification of pituitary tumors, may avoid the limitations of PA classification based solely on digital immunohistochemical detection of hormones.

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Benjamin T. Himes, Adip G. Bhargav, Desmond A. Brown, Timothy J. Kaufmann, Irina Bancos and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECTIVE

Cushing’s disease arises from functioning adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–secreting pituitary adenomas. These tumors can be very small and evade detection by MRI. Empty sella syndrome is a phenomenon by which an arachnoid outpouching of CSF into the sella leads to compression of the pituitary, likely due to intracranial hypertension (a common issue in Cushing’s disease), further leading to difficulty in visualizing the pituitary gland that may contribute to difficulty in finding a tumor on MRI, so-called MRI-negative Cushing’s disease. The authors sought to examine the association between empty sella syndrome and MRI-negative Cushing’s disease.

METHODS

A single-institution database of Cushing’s disease cases from 2000 to 2017 was reviewed, and 197 cases were included in the analysis. One hundred eighty patients had a tissue diagnosis of Cushing’s disease and 17 had remission with surgery, but no definitive tissue diagnosis was obtained. Macroadenomas (tumors > 1 cm) were excluded. The degree of empty sella syndrome was graded on the degree of CSF visualized in the sella on midline sagittal T1-weighted MRI.

RESULTS

Of the 197 cases identified, 40 (20%) presented with MRI-negative disease, and empty sella syndrome was present in 49 cases (25%). MRI-negative disease was found in 18 (37%) of 49 empty sella cases versus 22 (15%) of 148 cases without empty sella syndrome present. Empty sella syndrome was significantly associated with MRI-negative disease (OR 3.32, 95% CI 1.61–6.74, p = 0.0018). Decreased thickness of the pituitary gland was also associated with MRI-negative disease (mean thickness 5.6 vs 6.8 mm, p = 0.0002).

CONCLUSIONS

Empty sella syndrome is associated with an increased rate of MRI-negative Cushing’s disease. Pituitary compression causing a relative reduction in the volume of the pituitary for imaging is a plausible cause for not detecting the tumor mass with MRI.

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Mazin Elsarrag, Parantap D. Patel, Ajay Chatrath, Davis Taylor and John A. Jane Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Innovations in genomics, epigenomics, and transcriptomics now lay the groundwork for therapeutic interventions against neoplastic disease. In the past 30 years, the molecular pathogenesis of pituitary adenomas has been characterized. This enhanced understanding of the biology of pituitary tumors has potential to impact current treatment paradigms, and there exists significant translational potential for these results. In this review the authors summarize the results of genomics and molecular biology investigations into pituitary adenoma pathogenesis and behavior and discuss opportunities to translate basic science findings into clinical benefit.

METHODS

The authors searched the PubMed and MEDLINE databases by using combinations of the keywords “pituitary adenoma,” “genomics,” “pathogenesis,” and “epigenomics.” From the initial search, additional articles were individually evaluated and selected.

RESULTS

Pituitary adenoma growth is primarily driven by unrestrained cell cycle progression, deregulation of growth and proliferation pathways, and abnormal epigenetic regulation of gene expression. These pathways may be amenable to therapeutic intervention. A significant number of studies have attempted to establish links between gene mutations and tumor progression, but a thorough mechanistic understanding remains elusive.

CONCLUSIONS

Although not currently a prominent aspect in the clinical management of pituitary adenomas, genomics and epigenomic studies may become essential in refining patient care and developing novel pharmacological agents. Future basic science investigations should aim at elucidating mechanistic understandings unique to each pituitary adenoma subtype, which will facilitate rational drug design.

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Tyler Cardinal, Martin J. Rutkowski, Alexander Micko, Mark Shiroishi, Chia-Shang Jason Liu, Bozena Wrobel, John Carmichael and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Acromegaly is a disease of acral enlargement and elevated serum levels of insulin-like growth factor–1 (IGF-1) and growth hormone (GH), usually caused by a pituitary adenoma. A lack of consensus on factors that reliably predict outcomes in acromegalic patients following endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery (EETS) warrants additional investigation.

METHODS

The authors identified 52 patients with acromegaly who underwent an endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for resection of a GH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Preoperative and postoperative tumor and endocrinological characteristics such as tumor size, invasiveness, and GH/IGF-1 levels were evaluated as potential indicators of postoperative hormonal remission. Endocrinological remission was defined as postoperative IGF-1 levels at or below the age- and sex-normalized values.

RESULTS

The 52 patients had a mean age of 50.7 ± 13.4 years and a mean follow-up duration of 24.4 ± 19.1 months. Ten patients (19%) had microadenomas and 42 (81%) had macroadenomas. Five patients (9.6%) had giant adenomas. Forty-four tumors (85%) had extrasellar extension, with 40 (77%) exhibiting infrasellar invasion, 18 (35%) extending above the sella, and 7 (13%) invading the cavernous sinuses. Thirty-six patients (69%) underwent gross-total resection (GTR; mean maximal tumor diameter 1.47 cm), and 16 (31%) underwent subtotal resection (STR; mean maximal tumor diameter 2.74 cm). Invasive tumors were significantly larger, and Knosp scores were negatively correlated with GTR. Thirty-eight patients (73%) achieved hormonal remission after EEA resection alone, which increased to 87% with adjunctive medical therapy. Ninety percent of patients with microadenomas and 86% of patients with macroadenomas achieved hormonal remission. Preoperative IGF-1 and postoperative day 1 (POD1) GH levels were inversely correlated with hormonal remission. Postoperative CSF leakage occurred in 2 patients (4%), and none experienced vision loss, death, or injury to internal carotid arteries or cranial nerves.

CONCLUSIONS

Endoscopic transsphenoidal resection of GH-secreting pituitary adenomas is a safe and highly effective treatment for achieving hormonal remission and tumor control in up to 87% of patients with acromegaly when combined with postoperative medical therapy. Patients with lower preoperative IGF-1 and POD1 GH levels, with less invasive pituitary adenomas, and who undergo GTR are more likely to achieve postoperative biochemical remission.

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Gabriel Zada, Henry W. S. Schroeder, Andrew S. Little and Edward R. Laws Jr.

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Matteo Zoli, Victor E. Staartjes, Federica Guaraldi, Filippo Friso, Arianna Rustici, Sofia Asioli, Giacomo Sollini, Ernesto Pasquini, Luca Regli, Carlo Serra and Diego Mazzatenta

OBJECTIVE

Machine learning (ML) is an innovative method to analyze large and complex data sets. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of ML to identify predictors of early postsurgical and long-term outcomes in patients treated for Cushing disease (CD).

METHODS

All consecutive patients in our center who underwent surgery for CD through the endoscopic endonasal approach were retrospectively reviewed. Study endpoints were gross-tumor removal (GTR), postsurgical remission, and long-term control of disease. Several demographic, radiological, and histological factors were assessed as potential predictors. For ML-based modeling, data were randomly divided into 2 sets with an 80% to 20% ratio for bootstrapped training and testing, respectively. Several algorithms were tested and tuned for the area under the curve (AUC).

RESULTS

The study included 151 patients. GTR was achieved in 137 patients (91%), and postsurgical hypersecretion remission was achieved in 133 patients (88%). At last follow-up, 116 patients (77%) were still in remission after surgery and in 21 patients (14%), CD was controlled with complementary treatment (overall, of 131 cases, 87% were under control at follow-up). At internal validation, the endpoints were predicted with AUCs of 0.81–1.00, accuracy of 81%–100%, and Brier scores of 0.035–0.151. Tumor size and invasiveness and histological confirmation of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–secreting cells were the main predictors for the 3 endpoints of interest.

CONCLUSIONS

ML algorithms were used to train and internally validate robust models for all the endpoints, giving accurate outcome predictions in CD cases. This analytical method seems promising for potentially improving future patient care and counseling; however, careful clinical interpretation of the results remains necessary before any clinical adoption of ML. Moreover, further studies and increased sample sizes are definitely required before the widespread adoption of ML to the study of CD.