This month the PNA Medical Corner focuses on an article co-authored by several members and colleagues of the PNA: Drs. Chanson, Kaiser, Laws, van der Lely, and Melmed. It addresses a topic that PNA has sought to promote for decades: the designation of Pituitary Centers of Excellence, where patients can get highly specialized care.


Pilot study to define criteria for Pituitary Tumors Centers of Excellence (PTCOE): results of an audit of leading international centers

• PMID: 37640885 DOI: 10.1007/s11102-023-01345-0


Purpose:  The Pituitary Society established the concept and mostly qualitative parameters for defining uniform criteria for Pituitary Tumor Centers of Excellence (PTCOEs) based on expert consensus. Aim of the study was to validate those previously proposed criteria through collection and evaluation of self-reported activity of several internationally-recognized tertiary pituitary centers, thereby transforming the qualitative 2017 definition into a validated quantitative one, which could serve as the basis for future objective PTCOE accreditation.

Methods:  An ad hoc prepared database was distributed to nine Pituitary Centers chosen by the Project Scientific Committee and comprising Centers of worldwide repute, which agreed to provide activity information derived from registries related to the years 2018-2020 and completing the database within 60 days. The database, provided by each center and composed of Excel® spreadsheets with requested specific information on leading and supporting teams, was reviewed by two blinded referees and all 9 candidate centers satisfied the overall PTCOE definition, according to referees’ evaluations. To obtain objective numerical criteria, median values for each activity/parameter were considered as the preferred PTCOE definition target, whereas the low limit of the range was selected as the acceptable target for each respective parameter.

Results: Three dedicated pituitary neurosurgeons are preferred, whereas one dedicated surgeon is acceptable. Moreover, 100 surgical procedures per center per year are preferred, while the results indicated that 50 surgeries per year are acceptable. Acute post-surgery complications, including mortality and readmission rates, should preferably be negligible or nonexistent, but acceptable criterion is a rate lower than 10% of patients with complications requiring readmission within 30 days after surgery. Four endocrinologists devoted to pituitary diseases are requested in a PTCOE and the total population of patients followed in a PTCOE should not be less than 850. It appears acceptable that at least one dedicated/expert in pituitary diseases is present in neuroradiology, pathology, and ophthalmology groups, whereas at least two expert radiation oncologists are needed.

Conclusion: This is, to our knowledge, the first study to survey and evaluate the activity of a relevant number of high-volume centers in the pituitary field. This effort, internally validated by ad hoc reviewers, allowed for transformation of previously formulated theoretical criteria for the definition of a PTCOE to precise numerical definitions based on real-life evidence. The application of a derived synopsis of criteria could be used by independent bodies for accreditation of pituitary centers as PTCOEs.

Keywords: Acromegaly; Centers of Excellence; Criteria; Cushing’s disease; Medical treatment; Neurosurgery; Pituitary tumors; Prolactinoma

Copyright © The Author(s).