Pituitary adenomas are uncommon in childhood. Although medical treatment can be effective in treating prolactinomas and some growth hormone (GH)–secreting tumors, resection is indicated when visual function is affected or the side effects of medical therapy are intolerable. The authors of this report describe their 10-year experience in managing pituitary adenomas via the microscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approach in a pediatric population.
They performed a retrospective review of a surgical case series based at a single institution and consisting of 34 consecutive pediatric patients with endocrine-active (32 patients) and endocrine-inactive (2 patients) adenomas. These patients were surgically treated via an endonasal transsphenoidal approach between 1999 and 2008. Patient charts were reviewed, and clinical data were compiled and analyzed using the chi-square and Kaplan-Meier tests.
The patient cohort consisted of 20 girls and 14 boys, with ages ranging from 9 to 18 years and a median age of 16 years. Thirty-two patients (94%) underwent surgery for endocrine-active tumors, including 10 (29%) with Cushing disease, 21 (62%) with prolactinomas, and 1 (3%) with GH-secreting tumors. Two patients with nonsecreting adenomas underwent surgery for apoplexy. The mean tumor volume was 5.4 cm3, and 13 patients (38%) had suprasellar extension and 7 (21%) had cavernous sinus invasion. Gross-total resection was achieved in 26 patients (76%), although it was significantly less likely to be achieved in the setting of cavernous sinus invasion (p < 0.001) but was unaffected by suprasellar extension. Residual tumor was treated with radiation therapy in 6 patients (18%). The average duration of hospital stay was 1.6 days. The median follow-up time was 18 months. After surgery, 19 patients (56%) had normal hormone function without adjuvant therapy, 8 (24%) had normal function with adjuvant therapy, and 5 (15%) had persistently elevated hormone levels. Patients with a macroprolactinoma were significantly more likely to require postoperative adjuvant therapy than were those with a microprolactinoma (p < 0.03).
Endonasal transsphenoidal resection is a safe, well-tolerated, and potentially curative treatment option for pituitary adenomas in children. Despite the technical challenges associated with this approach in the pediatric population, these tumors can be effectively managed with minimal morbidity. Endocrine function is usually preserved, and the majority of patients will not require lifelong medical therapy.