An important prognostic factor for the surgical outcome and recurrence of a pituitary adenoma is its invasiveness into parasellar tissue, particularly into the space of the cavernous sinus (CS). The aims of this study were to reevaluate the existing parasellar classifications using an endoscopic technique and to evaluate the clinical and radiological outcomes associated with each grade.
The authors investigated 137 pituitary macroadenomas classified radiologically at least on one side as Grade 1 or higher (parasellar extension) and correlated the surgical findings using an endoscopic technique, with special reference to the invasiveness of the tumor into the CS. In each case, postoperative MRI was performed to evaluate the gross-total resection (GTR) rate and the rate of endocrinological remission (ER) in functioning adenomas.
The authors found a 16% rate of CS invasion during surgery for these macroadenomas. Adenomas radiologically classified as Grade 1 were found to be invasive in 1.5%, and the GTR/ER rate was 83%/88%. For Grade 2 adenomas, the rate of invasion was 9.9%, and the GTR/ER rate was 71%/60%. For Grade 3 adenomas, the rate of invasion was 37.9%, and the GTR/ER rate was 75%/33%. When the superior compartment of the CS (Grade 3A) was involved, the authors found a rate of invasion that was lower (p < 0.001) than that when the inferior compartment was involved (Grade 3B). The rate of invasion in Grade 3A adenomas was 26.5% with a GTR/ER rate of 85%/67%, whereas for Grade 3B adenomas, the rate of surgically observed invasion was 70.6% with a GTR/ER rate of 64%/0%. All of the Grade 4 adenomas were invasive, and the GTR/ER rate was 0%.
A comparison of microscopic and endoscopic techniques revealed no difference in adenomas with Grade 1 or 4 parasellar extension. In Grade 2 adenomas, however, the CS was found by the endoscopic technique to be invaded in 9.9% and by microscopic evaluation to be invaded in 88% (p < 0.001); in Grade 3 adenomas, the difference was 37.9% versus 86%, respectively (p = 0.002). Grade 4 adenomas had a statistically significant lower rate of GTR than those of all the other grades. In case of ER only, Grade 1 adenomas had a statistically significant higher rate of remission than did Grade 3B and Grade 4 adenomas.
The proposed classification proved that with increasing grades, the likelihood of surgically observed invasion rises and the chance of GTR and ER decreases. The direct endoscopic view confirmed the low rate of invasion of Grade 1 adenomas but showed significantly lower rates of invasion in Grade 2 and 3 adenomas than those previously found using the microscopic technique. In cases in which the intracavernous internal carotid artery was encased (Grade 4), all the adenomas were invasive and the GTR/ER rate was 0%/0%. The authors suggest the addition of Grades 3A and 3B to distinguish the strikingly different outcomes of adenomas invading the superior CS compartments and those invading the inferior CS compartments.