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Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 Aug 28;169(3):329-37. doi: 10.1530/EJE-13-0325. Print 2013 Sep.

Endoscopic transsphenoidal pituitary surgery: a good and safe primary treatment option for Cushing's disease, even in case of macroadenomas or invasive adenomas.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Geert Grooteplein 8, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Although the endoscopic technique of transsphenoidal pituitary surgery (TS) has been widely adopted, reports on its results in Cushing's disease (CD) are still scarce and no studies have investigated long-term recurrence rates. This is the largest endoscopic series published till now.


To gain insight into the role of endoscopic TS as a primary treatment option for CD, especially in patients with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-negative CD and (invasive) macroadenomas.


Retrospective cohort study.


The medical records of 86 patients with CD who underwent endoscopic TS were examined. Data on preoperative and postoperative evaluation, perioperative complications, and follow-up were collected. Remission was defined as disappearance of clinical symptoms with a fasting plasma cortisol level ≤ 50 nmol/l either basal or after 1 mg dexamethasone.


The remission rate in different adenoma subclasses varied significantly: 60% in MRI-negative CD (n=20), 83% in microadenomas (n=35), 94% in noninvasive macroadenomas (n=16), and 40% in macroadenomas that invaded the cavernous sinus (n=15). The recurrence rate was 16% after 71 ± 39 months of follow-up (mean ± S.D., range 10-165 months).


Endoscopic TS is a safe and effective treatment for all patients with CD. Recurrence rates after endoscopic TS are comparable with those reported for microscopic TS. Our data suggest that in patients with noninvasive and invasive macroadenomas, the endoscopic technique of TS should be the treatment of choice as remission rates seem to be higher than those reported for microscopic TS, although no comparative study has been performed.

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