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N Engl J Med. 1978 Apr 6;298(14):753-8.

Cushing's disease. Selective trans-sphenoidal resection of pituitary microadenomas.


We undertook trans-sphenoidal microsurgical pituitary exploration in 20 consecutive patients with Cushing's disease, eight of whom had normal sellar polytomography. Pituitary adenomas were selectively resected in 17 and histologically confirmed in 14. In one patient total hypophysectomy revealed a 1.5-mm basophilic adenoma, and in two patients vascular anomalies prevented sellar exploration. Hypercortisolism was corrected in 17 patients (i.e., in 16 of the 17 undergoing selective tumor removal and in the one with total hypophysectomy). Panhypopituitarism occurred only in this patient, and transient diabetes insipidus occurred in five. Most patients became glucocorticoid deficient and required replacement therapy. We conclude that pituitary tumors are present in the great majority of patient with Cushing's disease, even in the absence of demonstrable tomographic changes in the sella turcica, and that selective removal corrects hypercortisolism with little morbidity.

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