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J Neurosurg. 2012 Feb;116(2):283-9. doi: 10.3171/2011.6.JNS101663. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

Factors associated with delay to pituitary adenoma diagnosis in patients with visual loss.

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  • 1University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas, USA.



The duration of visual symptoms associated with a nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (NFA) is a predictive factor for chances of visual improvement. The authors investigated factors associated with increased duration of visual symptoms in patients with NFAs.


The authors retrospectively reviewed NFAs resected at their institution between 2004 and 2010 for duration of visual symptoms, postoperative improvement, and associated factors.


Seventy-five patients underwent NFA resection with a median visual symptom duration of 6.5 months (range 1 week-15 years). A multivariate logistic regression showed that duration of symptoms (p = 0.04), but not age at surgery (p = 0.2), predicted postoperative normalization of vision. Univariate nonparametric analyses investigating age at symptom onset, sex, race, insurance type, ophthalmological conditions, income, marital status, emergency department admission, language, and medical provider found that age was the only variable significantly prolonging symptom duration (p = 0.04), a finding confirmed by a multivariate regression analysis. Patients 20-39, 40-59, and 60-79 years old had median durations of symptoms of 4, 7, and 9 months, respectively. Seven older patients had symptoms attributed to preexisting ophthalmological conditions for a median of 18 months before NFA diagnosis. Among age and race subgroups, the largest difference in median symptom duration was between white patients in the 60-79-year age range (duration of 5 months) and nonwhite patients in the 60-79-year age range (duration of 24 months) (p = 0.04).


The authors found that older age was associated with delayed NFA diagnosis in visually impaired patients. Contributing factors were the attributing of visual symptoms from NFAs to other ophthalmological conditions in these patients, and delayed presentation in elderly nonwhite patients. These findings highlight challenges associated with timely NFA diagnosis in visually impaired patients, a key factor for chances of improvement.

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