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Pituitary macroadenoma

Pituitary adenoma greater than 10 mm in size and are approximately twice as common as pituitary microadenomas.

Pituitary macrocadenomas are the most common suprasellar mass in adults, and responsible for the majority of transsphenoidal hypophysectomies.

see Nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenoma.

Clinical features

Headache possible due to elevated intrasellar pressure.


Biomarkers of aggressive behavior have been identified in the pathology literature, including the proliferative marker MIB1. In the radiology literature, diffusion weighted imaging and low ADC values provide similar markers of aggressive behavior in brain tumors.

Tamrazi et al., determine a strong correlation of low ADCvalues and MIB-1, demonstrating the potential of diffusion imaging as a possible biomarker for atypical, proliferative adenomas, which may ultimately affect the surgical approach and postoperative management 1).


Compared with pre-contrast T1-weighted images only, post-contrast images provided considerable additional information, but not infrequently this information could also be extracted from pre-contrast T2-weighted images. Post-contrast images were superior regarding the tumour relationship to the cavernous sinus and to the normal pituitary tissue. T2-weighted images were helpful in the diagnosis of degenerative changes, in particular intratumoural haemorrhage. A positive correlation was found between the T2 value (from dual echo sequences) and the degree of enhancement in areas with an appearance of solid tumour tissue, and the enhancement was significantly lower in GH secreting pituitary adenoma than in non-secreting ones. It is concluded that the use of Gd-DTPA is often justified in pituitary macroadenomas, particularly in pre-operative evaluation 2).


The goal of treatment is complete cure. When this is not attainable, reducing tumor mass, restoring hormone function, and restoring normal vision are attempted using medications, surgery, and radiation. Pituitary macroadenomas often require surgical intervention for cure. The exceptions to this rule are the macroprolactinomas, which usually have an excellent response to medical therapy. The tumor size may be diminished but often does not disappear completely. Medical treatment can play a role in reducing tumor size, controlling hormonal excess, or correcting hormonal deficiency.

see Pituitary macroadenoma surgery.

Case series


Seven patients (4.1%) with oculomotor cistern extension and tracking were identified in a cohort of 170 patients with pituitary macroadenoma. The most common presenting symptoms were visual deficit (6 patients; 86%), apoplexy (3 patients; 43%), and oculomotor nerve palsy (3 patients; 43%). Lone oculomotor nerve palsy was seen in 2 patients without apoplexy and 1 patient with an apoplectic event. Gross-total resection was achieved via a microscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approach with or without endoscopic aid to the sella in 14%, near-total resection in 29%, and subtotal resection in 57% of patients in the data set.

Pituitary adenoma extension along the oculomotor cistern is uncommon; however, preoperatively recognizing such extension should play an important role in the surgeon's operative considerations and postoperative clinical management because this extension can limit gross-total resection using the transsphenoidal approach alone 3).

Eighteen patients with pituitary macroadenomas underwent transsphenoidal surgery during 2013-2014 under low-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) control (PoleStar N20, 0.15 T). Intrasellar balloons were used in all of them to assess the presence of tumoral remnants. Jiménez et al. compared the findings in iMRI and postoperative high-field MRI control scans and also analyzed the number of intermediate imaging controls needed during surgery using this technique.

In total, of the 18 patients, 14 underwent a complete resection. In the remaining four patients, a maximal safe resection was performed, leaving a remnant because of cavernous sinus invasion. In all cases, the balloons were a major help in distinguishing the anatomical structures from the tumoral remnants. Fewer imaging controls were required, and there were no false-positives or negative intraoperative findings. No complications related to the technique were registered.

The “intrasellar balloon technique” is a useful tool that facilitates surgeons' intraoperative decision making. It is an important contribution to overcome the limitations of low-field iMRI as it provides a precise delineation of the resection margins, reduces false-positives and -negatives, and decreases the number of intermediate imaging controls required 4).


Fifty-five transsphenoidal surgeries were performed for macroadenomas (modified Hardy's Grade II-IV) resections. All of the surgical processes were guided by real-time updated contrast T1-weighted coronal and sagittal images, which were acquired with 0.15 Tesla PoleStar N20 iMRI (Medtronic Navigation, Louisville, CO). The definitive benefits as well as major drawbacks of low-field iMRI in transsphenoidal surgery were assessed with respect to intraoperative imaging, tumor resection control, comparison with early postoperative high-field magnetic resonance imaging, and follow-up outcomes.

Intraoperative imaging revealed residual tumor and guided extended tumor resection in 17 of 55 cases. As a result, the percentage of gross total removal of macroadenomas increased from 58.2% to 83.6%. The accuracy of imaging evaluation of low-field iMRI was 81.8%, compared with early postoperative high-field MRI (Correlation coefficient, 0.677; P < 0.001). A significantly lower accuracy was identified with low-field iMRI in 6 cases with cavernous sinus invasion (33.3%) in contrast to the 87.8% found with other sites (Fisher's exact test, P < 0.001).

The PoleStar N20 low-field iMRI navigation system is a promising tool for safe, minimally invasive, endonasal, transsphenoidal pituitary macroadenomas resection. It enables neurosurgeons to control the extent of tumor resection, particularly for suprasellar tumors, ensuring surgical accuracy and safety, and leading to a decreased likelihood of repeat surgeries. However, this technology is still not satisfying in estimating the amount of the parasellar residual tumor invading into cavernous sinus, given the false or uncertain images generated by low-field iMRI in this region, which are difficult to discriminate between tumor remnant and blood within the venous sinus 5).

Tamrazi B, Pekmezci M, Aboian M, Tihan T, Glastonbury CM. Apparent diffusion coefficient and pituitary macroadenomas: pre-operative assessment of tumor atypia. Pituitary. 2016 Oct 12. PubMed PMID: 27734275.
Lundin P, Bergström K. Gd-DTPA-enhanced MR imaging of pituitary macroadenomas. Acta Radiol. 1992 Jul;33(4):323-32. PubMed PMID: 1633042.
Hoang N, Tran DK, Herde R, Couldwell GC, Osborn AG, Couldwell WT. Pituitary macroadenomas with oculomotor cistern extension and tracking: implications for surgical management. J Neurosurg. 2016 Aug;125(2):315-22. doi: 10.3171/2015.5.JNS15107. Epub 2015 Nov 13. PubMed PMID: 26566201.
Jiménez P, Brell M, Sarriá-Echegaray P, Roldán P, Tomás-Barberán M, Ibáñez J. “Intrasellar Balloon Technique” in intraoperative MRI guided transsphenoidal endoscopic surgery for sellar region tumors. Usefulness on image interpretation and extent of resection evaluation. Technical note. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2016 Jan 9. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26748503.
Wu JS, Shou XF, Yao CJ, Wang YF, Zhuang DX, Mao Y, Li SQ, Zhou LF. Transsphenoidal pituitary macroadenomas resection guided by PoleStar N20 low-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging: comparison with early postoperative high-field magnetic resonance imaging. Neurosurgery. 2009 Jul;65(1):63-70; discussion 70-1. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000348549.26832.51. PubMed PMID: 19574826.
pituitary_macroadenoma.txt · Last modified: 2017/12/29 11:48 by administrador