Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) provides updated information for neuronavigational purposes and assessments on the status of resection during transsphenoidal surgery (TSS). The high-field technique additionally provides information about vascular structures at risk and precise information about extrasellar residual tumor, making it readily available during the procedure. The imaging, however, extends the duration of surgery. To evaluate the benefit of this technique, the authors conducted a retrospective study to compare postoperative outcome and residual tumor in patients who underwent conventional microsurgical TSS with and without iMRI.
A total of 143 patients were assessed. A cohort of 67 patients who had undergone surgery before introduction of iMRI was compared with 76 patients who had undergone surgery since iMRI became routine in TSS at the authors' institution. Residual tumor, complications, hormone dependency, biochemical remission rates, and improvement of vision were assessed at 6-month follow-up. A volumetric evaluation of residual tumor was performed in cases of parasellar tumor extension.
The majority of patients in both groups suffered from nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. At the 6-month follow-up assessment, vision improved in 31% of patients who underwent iMRI-assisted surgery versus 23% in the conventional group. One instance of postoperative intrasellar bleeding was found in the conventional group. No major complications were found in the iMRI group. Minor complications were seen in 9% of patients in the iMRI group and in 5% of those in the conventional group. No differences between groups were found for hormone dependency and biochemical remission rates. Time of surgery was significantly lower in the conventional treatment group. Overall a residual tumor was found after surgery in 35% of the iMRI group, and 41% of the conventional surgery group harbored a residual tumor. Total resection was achieved as intended significantly more often in the iMRI group (91%) than in the conventional group (73%) (p < 0.034). Patients with a planned subtotal resection showed higher mean volumes of residual tumor in the conventional group. There was a significantly lower incidence of intrasellar tumor remnants in the iMRI group than in the conventional group. Progression-free survival after 30 months was higher according to Kaplan-Meier analysis with the use of iMRI, but a statistically significant difference could not be shown.
The use of high-field iMRI leads to a significantly higher rate of complete resection. In parasellar tumors a lower residual volume and a significantly lower rate of intrasellar tumor remnants were shown with the technique. So far, long-term follow-up is limited for iMRI. However, after 2 years Kaplan-Meier analyses show a distinctly higher progression-free survival in the iMRI group. No significant benefit of iMRI was found for biochemical remission rates and improvement of vision. Even though the surgical time was longer with the adjunct use of iMRI, it did not increase the complication rate significantly. The authors therefore recommend routine use of high-field iMRI for pituitary surgery, if this technique is available at the particular center.