In addition to difficulties with anesthetic and medical management, transsphenoidal operations in patients with longstanding acromegaly are associated with inherent intraoperative challenges because of anatomical variations that occur frequently in these patients. The object of this study was to review the overall safety profile and anatomical/technical challenges associated with transsphenoidal surgery in patients with acromegaly.
The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 169 patients who underwent endoscopic transsphenoidal operations for growth hormone–secreting adenomas to assess the incidence of surgical complications. A review of frequently occurring anatomical challenges and operative strategies employed during each phase of the operation to address these particular issues was performed.
Of 169 cases reviewed, there was no perioperative mortality. Internal carotid artery injury occurred in 1 patient (0.6%) with complex sinus anatomy, who remained neurologically intact following endovascular unilateral carotid artery occlusion. Other complications included: significant postoperative epistaxis (5 patients [3%]), transient diabetes insipidus (5 patients [3%]), delayed symptomatic hyponatremia (4 patients [2%]), CSF leak (2 patients [1%]), and pancreatitis (1 patient [0.6%]). Preoperative considerations in patients with acromegaly should include a cardiopulmonary evaluation and planning regarding intubation and other aspects of the anesthetic technique. During the nasal phase of the transsphenoidal operation, primary challenges include maintaining adequate visualization and hemostasis, which is frequently compromised by redundant, edematous nasal mucosa and bony hypertrophy of the septum and the nasal turbinates. During the sphenoid phase, adequate bony removal, optimization of working space, and correlation of imaging studies to intraoperative anatomy are major priorities. The sellar phase is frequently challenged by increased sellar floor thickness, distinct patterns of tumor extension and bony invasion, and anatomical variations in the caliber and course of the internal carotid artery. Specific operative techniques for addressing each of these intraoperative challenges are discussed.
Transsphenoidal surgery in patients with longstanding acromegaly frequently poses greater challenges than operations for other types of sellar lesions, yet these challenges may be safely and effectively overcome with the anticipation of specific issues and implementation of various intraoperative techniques.