Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) is frequently used to treat residual or recurrent nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenomas. There is no consensus as to whether GKRS should be used early after surgery or if radiosurgery should be withheld until there is evidence of imaging-defined progression of tumor. Given the high incidence of adenoma progression after subtotal resection over time, the present study intended to evaluate the effect of timing of radiosurgery on outcome.
This is a multicenter retrospective review of patients with nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenomas who underwent transsphenoidal surgery followed by GKRS from 1987 to 2015 at 9 institutions affiliated with the International Gamma Knife Research Foundation. Patients were matched by adenoma and radiosurgical parameters and stratified based on the interval between last resection and radiosurgery. Operative results, imaging data, and clinical outcomes were compared across groups following early (≤ 6 months after resection) or late (> 6 months after resection) radiosurgery.
After matching, 222 patients met the authors’ study criteria (from an initial collection of 496 patients) and were grouped based on early (n = 111) or late (n = 111) GKRS following transsphenoidal surgery. There was a greater risk of tumor progression after GKRS (p = 0.013) and residual tumor (p = 0.038) in the late radiosurgical group over a median imaging follow-up period of 68.5 months. No significant difference in the occurrence of post-GKRS endocrinopathy was observed (p = 0.68). Thirty percent of patients without endocrinopathy in the early cohort developed new endocrinopathies during the follow-up period versus 27% in the late cohort (p = 0.84). Fourteen percent of the patients in the early group and 25% of the patients in the late group experienced the resolution of endocrine dysfunction after original presentation (p = 0.32).
In this study, early GKRS was associated with a lower risk of radiological progression of subtotally resected nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenomas compared with expectant management followed by late radiosurgery. Delaying radiosurgery may increase patient risk for long-term adenoma progression. The timing of radiosurgery does not appear to significantly affect the rate of delayed endocrinopathy.