Pituitary apoplexy is a clinical syndrome consisting of neurological and endocrine abnormalities secondary to hemorrhage or ischemia of an underlying pituitary adenoma. The authors investigated whether there was a significant difference in neurological, endocrine, and nonneuroendocrine outcomes for patients with pituitary apoplexy, based on the time between symptom onset and surgical intervention.
The authors retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 32 patients who had presented to their institution with acute pituitary apoplexy and subsequently undergone endonasal transsphenoidal resection in the period from 2003 to 2014. All patients had undergone preoperative MRI demonstrating evidence of apoplexy in the form of intratumoral hemorrhage, ischemia, and necrosis. Neurological deficits, partial or complete endocrinopathy, and nonneuroendocrine abnormalities were analyzed both pre- and postoperatively.
Preoperatively, neurological deficits including visual loss and cranial nerve palsies were found in 31 (97%) of the 32 patients, endocrinopathy in the form of partial or panhypopituitarism was seen in 28 patients (88%), and nonneuroendocrine signs and symptoms were seen in 32 patients (100%). Thirteen patients (41%) underwent surgery within 72 hours of symptom onset (“early”), whereas 19 patients (59%) underwent surgery more than 72 hours from symptom onset (“delayed”). Early versus delayed resection did not appear to significantly improve visual deficits, total visual loss, resolution of oculomotor palsy, recovery from hypopituitarism, or nonneuroendocrine signs and symptoms such as headache and encephalopathy. Overall, visual improvement was seen in 77% of patients, complete restoration of normal vision in 38% of patients, and resolution of preoperative oculomotor palsies in 81% of patients. Only 6 (21%) of 28 patients showed evidence of partial hormone recovery following preoperative hypopituitarism. An absence of benefit for early surgery held true even when considering time to surgery from symptom onset as a continuous variable.
Neurological deficits such as visual loss and cranial neuropathies show moderate improvement following surgical decompression, as does preoperative hypopituitarism. The timing of surgical intervention relative to the onset of symptoms does not appear to significantly affect the resolution of neurological or endocrinological deficits.