PNA Medical Corner: MRI After Transsphenoidal Surgery

This month the PNA Medical Corner focuses on an article co-authored by several members of the PNA: Drs. Andrew Little, William White and Kevin Yuen. Their study found that early postoperative MRI is more helpful in detecting residual tumor than intraoperative assessment and LPO MRI.

J Neurosurg. 2020 Feb 7:1-10. doi: 10.3171/2019.11.JNS191845. [Epub ahead of print]

Early postoperative MRI and detection of residual adenoma after transsphenoidal pituitary surgery.

Alhilali LM1Little AS2Yuen KCJ3Lee J1Ho TK1Fakhran S4White WL2.

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Current practice guidelines recommend delayed (≥ 3 months after operation) postoperative MRI after transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenomas, although this practice defers obtaining important information, such as the presence of a residual adenoma, that might influence patient management during the perioperative period. In this study, the authors compared detection of residual adenomas by means of early postoperative (EPO) MRI (< 48 hours postsurgery) with both surgeon intraoperative assessment and late postoperative (LPO) MRI at 3 months.


Adult patients who underwent microscopic transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenomas with MRI preoperatively, < 48 hours after the operation, 3 months postoperatively, and yearly for 4 years were included. The presence or absence of residual tumor was assessed intraoperatively by a single surgeon and postoperatively by 2 neuroradiologists blinded to the intraoperative assessment and other postoperative imaging studies. The presence of residual tumor was confirmed by reresection, tumor growth on imaging, or hormonal evidence. Interreader reliability was calculated at each imaging time point. Specificity, sensitivity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value for EPO and LPO imaging and intraoperative assessment were determined.


In total, 102 consecutive patients who underwent microscopic transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary adenoma were included. Eighteen patients (18%) had confirmed residual tumors (12 confirmed by tumor growth, 5 by surgery, and 1 by biochemical evidence of persistent disease). Interreader reliability for detecting residual tumor on EPO MRI was almost perfect (κ = 0.88) and significantly higher than that for LPO MRI (κ = 0.69, p = 0.03). EPO MRI was highly specific for residual tumor (98%), a finding similar to that for intraoperative assessment (99%, p = 0.60) and significantly higher than that for LPO MRI (81%, p < 0.001). Notably, EPO MRI was significantly more sensitive for residual tumor (100%) than both intraoperative assessment (78%, p = 0.04) and LPO MRI (78%, p = 0.04). EPO MRI had a 100% negative predictive value and was used to find 4 residual tumors that were not identified intraoperatively. Residual tumors found on EPO MRI allowed for reresection during the same hospitalization for 3 patients.


EPO MRI after transsphenoidal pituitary surgery can be reliably interpreted and has greater sensitivity for detecting residual tumor than intraoperative assessment and LPO MRI. This result challenges current guidelines stating that delayed postoperative imaging is preferable to early imaging. Pituitary surgeons should consider performing EPO MRI either in addition to or instead of delayed imaging.


EPO = early postoperative (< 48 hours postsurgery); LPO = late postoperative (3 months postsurgery); iMRI = intraoperative MRI; magnetic resonance imaging; pituitary adenoma; pituitary surgery; transsphenoidal

PMID:32032952   DOI: 10.3171/2019.11.JNS191845


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