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William T. Couldwell and Martin H. Weiss

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William T. Couldwell, Parakrama T. Chandrasoma, and Martin H. Weiss

✓ A case of prostatic carcinoma metastasis to the pituitary gland is reported. The presentation and rarity of such a lesion is addressed. The literature review yielded only isolated case reports of symptomatic brain metastases unassociated with bone disease from adenocarcinoma of the prostate. The management options of such a lesion are discussed.

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William T. Couldwell, Peter Kan, and Martin H. Weiss

✓ The most common nonendocrine complication after transsphenoidal surgery is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. Many neurosurgeons have advocated the routine reconstruction of the floor of the sella turcica using autologous fat, muscle, fascia, and either cartilage or bone after transsphenoidal surgery to prevent postoperative CSF fistulas. However, the use of autologous grafting requires a second incision, prolongs operative time, and adds to the patient's postoperative discomfort. In addition, the presence of sellar packing may interfere with the interpretation of postoperative images. To avoid these disadvantages, the authors suggest that routine sellar reconstruction or closure after transsphenoidal surgery is unnecessary unless an intraoperative CSF leak is encountered. The incidence of postoperative CSF leakage in the patients reported on in this series is no higher than that reported by others, and no other complications such as pneu-matocele have been encountered in approximately 2700 patients in whom no intraoperative CSF leak was encountered. The authors conclude that routine closure of the floor of the sella turcica or sphenoid is unnecessary in the absence of intraoperative CSF leak.

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John H. Schneider, Martin H. Weiss, and William T. Couldwell

✓ The Los Angeles County General Hospital has played an integral role in the development of medicine and neurosurgery in Southern California. From its fledgling beginnings, the University of Southern California School of Medicine has been closely affiliated with the hospital, providing the predominant source of clinicians to care for and to utilize as a teaching resource the immense and varied patient population it serves.

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Mark D. Krieger, William T. Couldwell, and Martin H. Weiss

Object. The criteria for remission of acromegaly following transsphenoidal adenoma resection are in evolution. In the present study the authors evaluate the utility of predicting long-term remission by reference to a single fasting growth hormone (GH) level on the 1st postoperative day.

Methods. A retrospective analysis was conducted on 181 patients with acromegaly who underwent transsphenoidal resection between 1973 and 1990 and completed a 5-year follow-up period. Fasting serum GH levels were obtained in all patients on the 1st postoperative day in the absence of exogenous glucocorticoids. All patients participated in a follow-up evaluation lasting at least 5 years, which included measurements of serum insulin-like growth factor—I (IGF-I) levels as an index of acromegalic activity.

Among the 181 patients, GH levels ranged from 0 to 8 ng/ml in 131 (72%) on the 1st postoperative day, suggesting biochemical remission. This group included 107 (84%) of the 127 patients with microadenomas, but only 24 (44%) of the 54 with macroadenomas. Nevertheless, 15 (11%) of the 131 patients who initially had attenuated GH levels displayed recurrent acromegaly within the first 2 years (with elevated levels of IGF-I in all cases, and abnormalities appearing on magnetic resonance images in nine cases). Only one of 116 patients in whom the initial postoperative GH level was lower than 2 ng/ml experienced a recurrence, whereas 14 (93%) of the 15 patients with postoperative GH levels between 2.2 and 8 ng/ml subsequently displayed biochemical evidence of acromegaly.

Conclusions. The findings indicate that a fasting morning serum GH level lower than 2 ng/ml on the 1st postoperative day portends long-term biochemical remission of acromegaly, whereas higher levels are a significant marker for recurrent disease.

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William T. Couldwell, Martin H. Weiss, and Edward R. Laws Jr


Whether the withdrawal of treatment in patients with nontumoral hyperprolactinemia, microprolactinomas, or macroprolactinomas is safe and effective has been unclear. We performed an observational, prospective study of cabergoline (a dopamine-receptor agonist) withdrawal in such patients.


The study population included 200 patients—25 patients with nontumoral hyperprolactinemia, 105 with microprolactinomas, and 70 with macroprolactinomas. Withdrawal of cabergoline was considered if prolactin levels were normal, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed no tumor (or tumor reduction of 50 percent or more, with the tumor at a distance of more than 5 mm from the optic chiasm, and no invasion of the cavernous sinuses or other critical areas), and if follow-up after withdrawal could be continued for at least 24 months.


Recurrence rates two to five years after the withdrawal of cabergoline were 24 percent in patients with nontumoral hyperprolactinemia, 31 percent in patients with microprolactinomas, and 36 percent in patients with macroprolactinomas. Renewed tumor growth did not occur in any patient; in 10 female patients (22 percent) and 7 male patients (39 percent) with recurrent hyperprolactinemia, gonadal dysfunction redeveloped. In all diagnostic groups, prolactin levels at the time of recurrence were significantly lower than at diagnosis (p < 0.001). The Kaplan–Meier estimated rate of recurrence at five years was higher among patients with macroprolactinomas and those with microprolactinomas who had small remnant tumors visible on MRI at the time of treatment withdrawal than among patients whose MRI scans showed no evidence of tumor at the time of withdrawal (patients with macroprolactinomas, 78 percent vs. 33 percent, P = 0.001; patients with microprolactinomas, 42 percent vs. 26 percent, P = 0.02).


Cabergoline can be safely withdrawn in patients with normalized prolactin levels and no evidence of tumor. However, because the length of follow-up in our study was insufficient to rule out a delayed increase in the size of the tumor, we suggest that patients be closely monitored, particularly those with macroprolactinomas, in whom renewed growth of the tumor may compromise vision.

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Mark Hornyak, Martin H. Weiss, Don H. Nelson, and William T. Couldwell

✓The appearance of an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–producing tumor after bilateral adrenalectomy for Cushing disease was first described by Nelson in 1958. The syndrome that now bears his name was characterized by hyperpigmentation, a sellar mass, and increased plasma ACTH levels. The treatment of Cushing disease has changed drastically since the 1950s, when the choice was adrenalectomy. Thus, the occurrence, diagnosis, and treatment of Nelson syndrome have changed as well. In the modern era of high-resolution neuroimaging, transsphenoidal microneu-rosurgery, and stereotactic radiosurgery, Nelson syndrome has become a rare entity. The authors describe the history of the diagnosis and treatment of Nelson syndrome. In light of the changes described, the authors believe this disease must be reevaluated in the contemporary era and a modern paradigm adopted.

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William T. Couldwell, Takanori Fukushima, Steven L. Giannotta, and Martin H. Weiss

✓ The surgical removal of petroclival meningiomas has historically been associated with a high incidence of morbidity and mortality. The 109 consecutive patients included in the present retrospective study represent a combined series of tumors operated on by the four authors during a period from 1980 to 1992. The series is composed of 40 men and 69 women ranging in age from 25 to 75 years (mean 51 years). Surgical approaches to tumors in this series included simple retromastoid (60 cases), combined supra- and infratentorial petrosal (22), transtemporal (primary transsigmoid retrolabyrinthine, translabyrinthine, or transcochlear (12)), subtemporal (11), and frontotemporal transcavernous (eight). Gross-total removal was achieved in 75 patients (69%). Recurrence or progression of disease occurred in 14 patients (13%) over a 6.1-year mean follow-up period, and it was found within the cavernous sinus in 12 of these cases. Four recurrent cases demonstrated histological compatibility with malignant meningioma. Perioperative death occurred in four patients, and there were 56 significant complications in 35 other patients. Review of this series, with the attendant complications, has facilitated the authors' decision-making when considering the risk of gross-total removal in selected patients with asymptomatic cavernous sinus invasion or tumor adherent to the brainstem.