PNA Medical Corner: Recovery After Transsphenoidal Surgery

This month’s PNA Medical Corner focuses on an article co-written by several members of the PNA: Drs. Little, Gardner, Fernandez-Miranda, Barkhoudarian, Prevedello, Yuen and Kelly. The study looked at measures of recovery of the pituitary gland after fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery and found improvement only in a substantial minority of patients, especially those with adrenal insufficiency.

J Neurosurg. 2019 Nov 15:1-7. doi: 10.3171/2019.8.JNS191012. [Epub ahead of print]
Pituitary gland recovery following fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma: results of a prospective multicenter study.
Little AS1, Gardner PA2, Fernandez-Miranda JC3, Chicoine MR4, Barkhoudarian G5, Prevedello DM6, Yuen KCJ7, Kelly DF5; TRANSSPHER Study Group.

Andrew Littlegardner paul neurosurgery 150Juan Fernandez MirandaBarkhoudarianPrevedelloyuenkevinDr Dan Kelly sm

Author information

1Department of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona.
2Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
3 Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
4Department of Neurological Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
5Pacific Brain Tumor Center and Pituitary Disorders Program, John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, California.
6Department of Neurological Surgery, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; and.
7Department of Neuroendocrinology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona.



Recovery from preexisting hypopituitarism after transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenoma is an important outcome to investigate. Furthermore, pituitary function has not been thoroughly evaluated after fully endoscopic surgery, and benchmark outcomes have not been clearly established. Here, the authors characterize pituitary gland outcomes with a focus on gland recovery following endoscopic transsphenoidal removal of clinically nonfunctioning adenomas.


This multicenter prospective study was conducted at 6 US pituitary centers among adult patients with nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenomas who had undergone endoscopic endonasal pituitary surgery. Pituitary gland function was evaluated 6 months after surgery.


The 177 enrolled patients underwent fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery; 169 (95.5%) of them were available for follow-up. Ninety-five (56.2%) of the 169 patients had had a preoperative deficiency in at least one hormone axis, and 20/95 (21.1%) experienced recovery in at least one axis at the 6-month follow-up. Patients with adrenal insufficiency were more likely to recover (10/34 [29.4%]) than were those with hypothyroidism (8/72 [11.1%]) or male hypogonadism (5/50 [10.0%]). At the 6-month follow-up, 14/145 (9.7%) patients had developed at least one new deficiency. The study did not identify any predictors of gland recovery (p ≥ 0.20). Permanent diabetes insipidus was observed in 4/166 (2.4%) patients. Predictors of new gland dysfunction included a larger tumor size (p = 0.009) and Knosp grade 3 and 4 (p = 0.051).


Fully endoscopic pituitary surgery resulted in improvement of pituitary gland function in a substantial minority of patients. The deficiency from which patients were most likely to recover was adrenal insufficiency. Overall rates of postoperative permanent diabetes insipidus were low. This study provides multicenter benchmark neuroendocrine clinical outcome data for the endoscopic technique.


GTR = gross-total resection; STR = subtotal resection; endoscopic surgery; hypopituitarism; nonfunctioning adenoma; pituitary surgery; transsphenoidal surgery
PMID:31731279 DOI:10.3171/2019.8.JNS191012


Available Now!

PPRG6-500 Cover
The Pituitary Patient Resource Guide Sixth Edition is now available! Be one of the first to have the most up-to-date information. The Pituitary Patient Resource Guide a one of a kind publication intended as an invaluable source of information not only for patients but also their families, physicians, and all health care providers. It contains information on symptoms, proper testing, how to get a diagnosis, and the treatment options that are available. It also includes Pituitary Network Association's patient resource listings for expert medical care.

Buy Now

Continuing Education Program

Knowledge Icon 500

If you are a nurse or medical professional, register for PNA CEU Membership and  earn CEU credits to learn about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for patients with pituitary disorders. Help PNA reduce the time it takes for patients to get an accurate diagnosis.

button registerNow

For more information click here!