Spontaneous and medically induced CSF leaks are uncommonly associated with pituitary adenomas. The aim of this study was to further characterize the clinical scenarios most closely associated with this phenomenon.
A review of the literature was conducted to identify all cases of nonsurgical CSF leaks associated with pituitary adenomas. The authors aimed to identify associated risk factors and management strategies used to treat these tumors and repair the CSF leak site.
Fifty-two patients with spontaneous or medically induced CSF leaks in the setting of a pituitary adenoma were identified from 29 articles published from 1980 through 2011. In 38 patients (73%), CSF rhinorrhea developed following initiation of medical therapy, whereas spontaneous CSF leakage developed as the presenting symptom in 14 patients (27%). The patients' mean age was 42.8 years (range 23–68 years). There were 35 males and 17 females. Forty-two patients (81%) had a prolactinoma, with the remaining patients having the following tumors: nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (6 patients), growth hormone–secreting adenoma (2 patients), mammosomatotroph cell adenoma (1 patient), and ACTH-secreting adenoma (1 patient). Infrasellar tumor invasion into the paranasal sinuses was specifically reported in 56% of patients. The medical agents associated with CSF leakage were dopamine agonists (97%) and somatostatin analogs (3%). The average time from initialization of medical treatment to onset of rhinorrhea was 3.3 months (range 3 days–17 months). Nonsurgical management was successful in 4 patients, including 1 who had successful resolution with a temporary lumbar drain. Forty-six patients (88%) underwent surgical intervention to treat the CSF leak and/or resect the tumor. In 2 patients, surgery was not performed due to medical contraindications or patient preference.
Nonsurgical development of CSF rhinorrhea may occur in the setting of pituitary adenomas, especially following favorable response of invasive prolactinomas to initiation of dopamine agonist therapy. Additional cases have been reported as the presenting symptom of a pituitary adenoma and are likely to be related to decreased tumor volume due to intrinsic infarction or hemorrhage, ongoing invasion, and/or increases in intracranial pressure. Surgical repair, preferentially via a transsphenoidal approach, is the recommended initial treatment for definitive repair of the CSF leak and achievement of maximal tumor resection.