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J Neurooncol. 2004 Aug-Sep;69(1-3):257-72.

Stereotactic radiosurgery for pituitary adenomas: a review of the literature.

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University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.



Pituitary adenomas are very common neoplasms and represent between 10 and 20% of all primary brain tumors. Historically, the treatment armamentarium for pituitary adenomas included medical management, microsurgery, and fractionated radiotherapy. More recently, radiosurgery has emerged as a viable treatment option. The goal of this research is to define accurately the efficacy, safety, and role of radiosurgery for treatment of pituitary adenomas.


Medical literature databases from 1965 to 2003 were searched for articles pertaining to pituitary adenomas and stereotactic radiosurgery. Each study was evaluated for the number of patients, radiosurgical parameters (e.g. tumor margin dose), length of follow-up, tumor growth control rate, complications, and rate of hormonal normalization in the case of functioning adenomas.


A total of 34 published studies including 1567 patients were reviewed. Radiosurgery offers a tumor growth control rate of approximately 90%. The reported rates of hormonal normalization for functioning adenomas vary substantially. This range is in part due to widespread differences in endocrinological criteria utilized for post-radiosurgical assessment. Thus far, the risks of radiation induced neoplasia and cerebral vasculopathy associated with radiosurgery appear to be lower than for fractionated radiation therapy. The incidence of other serious complications following radiosurgery is quite low.


Although surgical resection typically is the primary treatment modality, stereotactic radiosurgery offers safe and effective treatment for recurrent or residual pituitary adenomas. In rare instances, radiosurgery may be the best initial treatment for patients with pituitary adenomas. Refinements in the radiosurgical technique will likely lead to improved outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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