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Table of Contents    
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 63  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 312-314

Surgery for acromegaly

Department of Neurosurgery, Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication5-Jun-2015

Correspondence Address:
C E Deopujari
Department of Neurosurgery, Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.158183

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How to cite this article:
Deopujari C E. Surgery for acromegaly. Neurol India 2015;63:312-4

How to cite this URL:
Deopujari C E. Surgery for acromegaly. Neurol India [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Sep 25];63:312-4. Available from:

Acromegaly was first described by Marie in 1886. [1] Benda suggested the existence of a causal relationship between acromegaly and a pituitary tumor at the turn of 19 th century. The discovery of X-rays around the same time allowed the sellar changes to be visualized. These advances enabled Lewis to propagate the concept of surgical treatment for acromegaly. [2] Although the first attempt to operate, using a craniotomy, a pituitary tumor causing acromegaly was done in 1893 by Caton and Paul under the supervision of Sir Victor Horsley, [3] the first successful surgery through a lateral rhinotomy can be credited to Schloffer in 1907 at Vienna. [4] This concept of the inferior extra-cranial route was soon modified by Harvey Cushing into the sublabial transsphenoidal approach. [5] Since then, the value of surgical removal of the pituitary tumor has been well-recognized in the management of acromegaly.

Many surgeons started preferring the open craniotomy approach after its advocacy by Cushing. The re-popularization of transsphenoidal surgery in 1970s by Guiot et al. [6] and the introduction of microscope to the operative technique of selective adenoma removal by Hardy [7] established the transsphenoidal approach as the main treatment modality for this disease. Several technical advances in recent times have further improved the overall results, and surgical treatment is considered safe, effective and the first choice of treatment for acromegaly. [8],[9],[10] Furthermore, the recent addition of endoscopic pituitary surgery has also favorably influenced outcomes. [11],[12],[13] Our own cure rate in the last 26 patients of macroadenomas treated with purely endoscopic surgery has been 67% (unpublished data).

The importance of dedicated centers and surgeons for pituitary disorders has been emphasized in achieving better cure rates by several workers. [14],[15],[16],[17],[18] This has also been an important factor for minimizing complications in the survey conducted on transsphenoidal surgery by Ivan Ciric. [19] More recently, there has been an emphasis on developing centers of excellence for better training of younger neurosurgeons. [20]

Dutta et al. have contributed an important review of their experience in assessing the changing trends in acromegaly in this issue. [21] With the present American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) criteria, the patients have been assessed for cure and the importance of a multi-disciplinary management and the role of experience of the surgeons in determining outcome, have been emphasized. Although this point has been highlighted well in the paper with their experience resulting in an improvement from 12.5% to 56%, the cure rates are still low due to the application of the more stringent criteria that is now in place, as well as the influence of several other factors in acromegaly. This is well-documented in several studies with approximately a 70% cure rate in microadenomas and a 50% cure rate in macroadenomas. [22],[23]

There is a common feeling that tumor size (staging) and preoperative basal growth hormone (GH) levels are important predictors of outcome. [9],[10],[24],[25] Tumor size (micro, macro, and giant) alone may not have much influence on the outcome if there is a regular growth of the tumor in a confined compartment. But invasiveness certainly has an influence in determining the completeness of tumor removal and thereby on cure rates. [26] Cavernous sinus invasion is an important factor in some cases. Although the medial cavernous sinus may be entered safely for softer tumors, it is almost impossible to remove the firm, nonsuckable tumors using the transsphenoidal approach. An illustrative case shows a small residue in the cavernous sinus due to the fibrous nature of the lesion [Figure 1]a-c. This could later be tackled by radiosurgery. Dural invasion has been observed by Laws et al. and Scheithauer et al. [27],[28],[29] in a large percentage of pituitary adenomas. The invasiveness has been noted in almost 50% of GH-secreting tumors. This may explain the incomplete remission and the high recurrence rates in patients without demonstrable tumors on a postoperative scan. This situation may warrant institution of medical therapy. An illustrative example of a young boy with gigantism is presented [Figure 2]a and b.
Figure 1: In a patient with acromegaly (a) a macroadenoma with suprasellar and left cavernous sinus extension; (b) the endoscopic operative view showing the fibrous tumor infiltrating within cavernous sinus behind the internal carotid artery. The internal carotid artery is being located using the Doppler probe; and, (c) postoperative scan showing residual tumor in the left cavernous sinus. Growth hormone levels remained 3.8 ng/ml prompting further adjuvant treatment using a gamma-knife

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Figure 2: (a) A 14-year-old with gigantism due to a pituitary macroademona with suprasellar extension with the growth hormone (GH) levels being 106 ng/ml; and, (b) complete excision was confirmed by postoperative magnetic resonance imaging and the GH levels remained 3.5 ng/ml. Although the radiology did not reveal any visible tumor, it could not be termed as a cure based on the present criteria. After a clinical remission for 2 years, the patient again became symptomatic with increased GH levels

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According to the AACE medical guidelines for clinical practice for the diagnosis and treatment of acromegaly (update 2011), [30] in most patients, medical therapy is used as an adjuvant treatment in the setting of persistent disease despite prior surgical intervention. Similarly, in patients with acromegaly, radiotherapy should be considered as an adjunctive treatment in those not fully responding to either surgical or medical treatment (or both). Although surgery (microscopic or endoscopic) by the transsphenoidal route as a primary treatment, gives immediate and best chance of cure in acromegaly, dedicated centers, experienced surgeons, preoperative hormonal levels, and morphology of tumor considerably influence the cure or remission rates.

 » References Top

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Lewis DD. A contribution to the subject of tumors of the hypophysis. J Am Med Assoc 1910;55:102.  Back to cited text no. 2
Caton R. Notes of a case of acromegaly treated by operation. Br Med J 1893;2:1421-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
Schloffer H. Erfolgreiche Operation eines Hypophysentumors auf nasalem wege. Wein Klin Wochenschr 1907;20:621-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Cushing H. III. Partial hypophysectomy for acromegaly: With remarks on the function of the hypophysis. Ann Surg 1909;50:1002-17.  Back to cited text no. 5
Guiot G, Derome P, Wislawski J. Neurosurgical problems and criteria of therapeutic efficiency in acromegaly. Neurochirurgie 1971;17:5-10.  Back to cited text no. 6
Hardy J. Microadenectomy or microhypophysectomy. J Neurosurg 1978;48:668.  Back to cited text no. 7
Banerji D, Das NK, Sharma S, Jindal Y, Jain VK, Behari S. Surgical management of acromegaly: Long term functional outcome analysis and assessment of recurrent/residual disease. Asian J Neurosurg 2015.  Back to cited text no. 8
Davis DH, Laws ER Jr, Ilstrup DM, Speed JK, Caruso M, Shaw EG, et al. Results of surgical treatment for growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas. J Neurosurg 1993;79:70-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Nomikos P, Buchfelder M, Fahlbusch R. The outcome of surgery in 668 patients with acromegaly using current criteria of biochemical ′cure′. Eur J Endocrinol 2005;152:379-87.  Back to cited text no. 10
D′Haens J, Van Rompaey K, Stadnik T, Haentjens P, Poppe K, Velkeniers B. Fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for functioning pituitary adenomas: A retrospective comparison with traditional transsphenoidal microsurgery in the same institution. Surg Neurol 2009;72:336-40.  Back to cited text no. 11
Tabaee A, Anand VK, Barrón Y, Hiltzik DH, Brown SM, Kacker A, et al. Endoscopic pituitary surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Neurosurg 2009;111:545-54.  Back to cited text no. 12
Sarkar S, Rajaratnam S, Chacko G, Chacko AG. Endocrinological outcomes following endoscopic and microscopic transsphenoidal surgery in 113 patients with acromegaly. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2014;126:190-5.  Back to cited text no. 13
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Ahmed S, Elsheikh M, Stratton IM, Page RC, Adams CB, Wass JA. Outcome of transphenoidal surgery for acromegaly and its relationship to surgical experience. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 1999;50:561-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
Evran M, Sert M, Tetiker T. Clinical experiences and success rates of acromegaly treatment: The single center results of 62 patients. BMC Endocr Disord 2014;14:97.  Back to cited text no. 16
Lissett CA, Peacey SR, Laing I, Tetlow L, Davis JR, Shalet SM. The outcome of surgery for acromegaly: The need for a specialist pituitary surgeon for all types of growth hormone (GH) secreting adenoma. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 1998;49:653-7.  Back to cited text no. 17
Ross DA, Wilson CB. Results of transsphenoidal microsurgery for growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma in a series of 214 patients. J Neurosurg 1988;68:854-67.  Back to cited text no. 18
Ciric I, Ragin A, Baumgartner C, Pierce D. Complications of transsphenoidal surgery: Results of a national survey, review of the literature, and personal experience. Neurosurgery 1997;40:225-36.  Back to cited text no. 19
Shahlaie K, McLaughlin N, Kassam AB, Kelly DF. The role of outcomes data for assessing the expertise of a pituitary surgeon. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 2010;17:369-76.  Back to cited text no. 20
Dutta P, Hajela A, Pathak A, Bhansali A, Radotra BD, Vashishta RK, et al. Clinical profile and outcome of patients with acromegaly according to the 2014 consensus guidelines: Impact of a multi-disciplinary team. Neurol India 2015;63:360-368.  Back to cited text no. 21
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Kreutzer J, Vance ML, Lopes MB, Laws ER Jr. Surgical management of GH-secreting pituitary adenomas: An outcome study using modern remission criteria. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001;86:4072-7.  Back to cited text no. 23
Tindall GT, Oyesiku NM, Watts NB, Clark RV, Christy JH, Adams DA. Transsphenoidal adenomectomy for growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas in acromegaly: Outcome analysis and determinants of failure. J Neurosurg 1993;78:205-15.  Back to cited text no. 24
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Laws ER. Surgery for acromegaly: Evolutions of techniques and outcomes. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 2008;9:67-70.  Back to cited text no. 26
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