Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) is frequently employed 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 radiographic progression of tumor.
This is a retrospective review of patients with nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenomas who underwent transsphenoidal surgery followed by GKRS between 1996 and 2013 at the University of Virginia Health System. Patients were stratified based on the interval between resection and radiosurgery. Operative results and imaging and clinical outcomes were compared across groups following early (≤ 6 months) or late (> 6 months) radiosurgery.
Sixty-four patients met the study criteria and were grouped based on early (n = 32) or late (n = 32) GKRS following transsphenoidal resection. There was a greater risk of tumor progression after GKRS in the late radiosurgical group (p = 0.027) over a median radiographic follow-up period of 68.5 months. Furthermore, there was a significantly higher occurrence of post-GKRS endocrinopathy in the late radiosurgical cohort (p = 0.041). Seventeen percent of patients without endocrinopathy in the early cohort developed new endocrinopathies during the follow-up period versus 64% in the late cohort (p = 0.036). This difference was primarily due to a significantly higher rate of tumor growth during the observation period of the late treatment cohort (p = 0.014). Of these patients with completely new endocrinopathies, radiation-associated pituitary insufficiency developed in 1 of 2 patients in the early group and in 3 of 7 (42.9%) patients in the late group.
Early treatment with GKRS appears to decrease the rate of radiographic and symptomatic progression of subtotally resected nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenomas compared with late GKRS treatment after a period of expectant management. Delaying radiosurgery may place the patient at increased risk for adenoma progression and endocrinopathy.