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Arch Dis Child. 1997 May;76(5):398-404.

Transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumours.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Middlesex Hospital, London.



Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) is the preferred method for the excision of pituitary microadenomas in adults. This study was carried out to establish the long term efficacy and safety of TSS in children.


A 14 year retrospective analysis was carried out on 23 children (16 boys and seven girls), all less than 18 years of age, who had undergone TSS at our centre.


Twenty nine transsphenoidal surgical procedures were carried out. The most common diagnosis was an adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) secreting adenoma (14 (61%) patients). The median length of follow up was 8.0 years (range 0.3-14.0 years). Eighteen (78%) patients were cured after the first procedure. No death was related to the operation. The most common postoperative complication was diabetes insipidus, which was transient in most patients. Other complications were headaches in two patients and cerebrospinal fluid leaks in two patients. De novo endocrine deficiencies after TSS in children were as follows: three (14%) patients developed panhypopituitarism, eight (73%) developed growth hormone insufficiency, three (14%) developed secondary hypothyroidism, and four (21%) developed gonadotrophin deficiency. Permanent ACTH deficiency occurred in five (24%) patients, though all patients received postoperative glucocorticoid treatment until dynamic pituitary tests were performed three months after TSS.


TSS in children is a safe and effective treatment for pituitary tumours, provided it is performed by surgeons with considerable experience and expertise. Surgical complications are minimal. Postoperative endocrine deficit is considerable, but is only permanent in a small proportion of patients.

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