Object. Nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas comprise approximately 30% of all pituitary tumors. The purpose of this retrospective study is to evaluate the efficacy and role of gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS) in the management of residual or recurrent nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas.
Methods. A review was conducted of the data obtained in 42 patients who underwent adjuvant GKS at the University of Pittsburgh between 1987 and 2001. Prior treatments included transsphenoidal resection, craniotomy and resection, or conventional radiotherapy. Endocrinological, ophthalmological, and radiological responses were evaluated. The duration of follow-up review varied from 6 to 102 months (mean 31.2 months). Fifteen patients were observed for more than 40 months. The mean radiation dose to the tumor margin was 16 Gy. Conformal radiosurgery planning was used to restrict the dose to the optic nerve and chiasm.
Tumor control after GKS was achieved in 100% of patients with microadenomas and 97% of patients with macroadenomas. Gamma knife radiosurgery was equally effective in controlling adenomas with cavernous sinus invasion and suprasellar extension. No patient developed a new endocrinological deficiency following GKS. One patient's tumor enlarged with an associated decline in visual function. Another patient experienced a deterioration of visual fields despite a decrease in tumor size.
Conclusions. Gamma knife radiosurgery can achieve tumor control in virtually all residual or recurrent nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. Dose sparing facilitates tumor management even when the adenoma is close to the optic apparatus or invades the cavernous sinus.