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J Clin Neurosci. 2011 Nov;18(11):1463-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2011.02.041. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Surgical outcome of oculomotor nerve palsy in pituitary adenoma.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, Keelung, Taiwan.


Oculomotor nerve palsy is a relatively rare symptom in pituitary adenoma compared to visual compromise or endocrine deficiency. The causes and recovery remain unclear. A total of 23 patients with pituitary adenomas presenting with oculomotor nerve palsy were reviewed. Patients were treated immediately with glucocorticoid therapy. Elective pure-endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery was used for decompression and histopathological confirmation. The clinical differences of patients with apoplectic (hemorrhage or infarction) (20 patients) and non-apoplectic tumors (three patients) were compared. In the apoplectic group, hemorrhage was noted in 13 patients and infarction in seven. Most patients presented with ptosis, followed by limited gaze and diplopia. In the long-term follow-up, the overall complete recovery rate was 19/23 (82.6%): 18/20 in the apoplectic group (90%), and one in three patients in the non-apoplectic group (33%). The median recovery time was 9 days after surgical decompression; and early treatment resulted in early recovery (p = 0.03). Patients with pupil-sparing pituitary adenoma recovered more rapidly than those with pupil involvement (p = 0.012). Patients with minor symptoms recovered earlier than patients with complete palsy (p = 0.003). MRI revealed that the tumor had invaded the interclinoid ligament region in all patients. We conclude that oculomotor nerve palsy usually occurs in patients with apoplectic adenomas, especially those with hemorrhage. Early treatment, pupil-sparing, and minor oculomotor symptoms are factors indicating a good recovery. Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgical decompression achieved good results in this study.

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