Gamma Knife radiosurgery for the management of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas: a multicenter study

Clinical article

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  • 1 Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia;
  • 2 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
  • 3 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada;
  • 4 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky;
  • 5 Cleveland Clinic, Brain Tumor Institute, Cleveland, Ohio;
  • 6 Department of Neurosurgery, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut;
  • 7 Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • 8 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California, San Francisco, California; and
  • 9 Department of Neurological Surgery, New York University, New York, New York
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Object

Pituitary adenomas are fairly common intracranial neoplasms, and nonfunctioning ones constitute a large subgroup of these adenomas. Complete resection is often difficult and may pose undue risk to neurological and endocrine function. Stereotactic radiosurgery has come to play an important role in the management of patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. This study examines the outcomes after radiosurgery in a large, multicenter patient population.

Methods

Under the auspices of the North American Gamma Knife Consortium, 9 Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) centers retrospectively combined their outcome data obtained in 512 patients with nonfunctional pituitary adenomas. Prior resection was performed in 479 patients (93.6%) and prior fractionated external-beam radiotherapy was performed in 34 patients (6.6%). The median age at the time of radiosurgery was 53 years. Fifty-eight percent of patients had some degree of hypopituitarism prior to radiosurgery. Patients received a median dose of 16 Gy to the tumor margin. The median follow-up was 36 months (range 1–223 months).

Results

Overall tumor control was achieved in 93.4% of patients at last follow-up; actuarial tumor control was 98%, 95%, 91%, and 85% at 3, 5, 8, and 10 years postradiosurgery, respectively. Smaller adenoma volume (OR 1.08 [95% CI 1.02–1.13], p = 0.006) and absence of suprasellar extension (OR 2.10 [95% CI 0.96–4.61], p = 0.064) were associated with progression-free tumor survival. New or worsened hypopituitarism after radiosurgery was noted in 21% of patients, with thyroid and cortisol deficiencies reported as the most common postradiosurgery endocrinopathies. History of prior radiation therapy and greater tumor margin doses were predictive of new or worsening endocrinopathy after GKS. New or progressive cranial nerve deficits were noted in 9% of patients; 6.6% had worsening or new onset optic nerve dysfunction. In multivariate analysis, decreasing age, increasing volume, history of prior radiation therapy, and history of prior pituitary axis deficiency were predictive of new or worsening cranial nerve dysfunction. No patient died as a result of tumor progression. Favorable outcomes of tumor control and neurological preservation were reflected in a 4-point radiosurgical pituitary score.

Conclusions

Gamma Knife surgery is an effective and well-tolerated management strategy for the vast majority of patients with recurrent or residual nonfunctional pituitary adenomas. Delayed hypopituitarism is the most common complication after radiosurgery. Neurological and cranial nerve function were preserved in more than 90% of patients after radiosurgery. The radiosurgical pituitary score may predict outcomes for future patients who undergo GKS for a nonfunctioning adenoma.

Abbreviations used in this paper:CN = cranial nerve; EBRT = external-beam radiation therapy; GKS = Gamma Knife surgery; NAGKC = North American Gamma Knife Consortium; RPS = radiosurgical pituitary score; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery.

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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Jason Sheehan, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Box 800212, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908. email: jsheehan@virginia.edu.

Please include this information when citing this paper: published online April 26, 2013; DOI: 10.3171/2013.3.JNS12766.

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