Transsphenoidal surgery for acromegaly: Endocrinological follow-up of 98 patients

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OBJECTIVE: Transsphenoidal surgery is the preferred treatment modality for growth hormone (GH)-secreting pituitary adenomas. In many series, the reported postoperative remission is based mainly on achievement of GH levels less than 2 ng/ml. Strict criteria for insulin-like growth factor I normalization and even lower GH levels (<1 ng/ml) are now suggested to define cure of acromegaly, but the evidence does not yet support such low GH levels in epidemiological follow-up. We analyzed our postoperative results in a large cohort of patients with acromegaly. METHODS: Ninety-eight patients harboring GH-secreting adenomas (46 microadenomas and 52 macroadenomas) underwent transsphenoidal surgery between 1990 and 1999. Ninety-one patients were operated for the first time, and 12 patients underwent reoperations because of previous surgical failure (7 had undergone surgery elsewhere previously). Biochemical remission was defined as a repeated fasting or glucose-suppressed GH level of 2 ng/ml or less, and a normal insulin-like growth factor I level. RESULTS: Remission was achieved in 74% of all patients after one operation, including 84% of patients with microadenomas and 64% of patients with macroadenomas. Seventy-three percent of patients with macroadenomas 11 to 20 mm in size achieved remission, as compared with a 20% remission rate for patients with adenomas larger than 20 mm. Patients with preoperative random GH levels lower than 50 ng/ml had a better outcome (85% remission), whereas GH greater than 50 ng/ml was associated with remission in 30% of the patients. Only one of the patients (8%) with postoperative active disease who underwent a second operation achieved remission. Recurrence was rare (one patient), and all failed surgical attempts could be detected during the immediate postoperative evaluation. CONCLUSION: On the basis of strict postoperative GH and insulin-like growth factor I criteria to define remission, our series demonstrates the efficacy of transsphenoidal surgery for acromegalic patients with microadenomas and noninvasive macroadenomas. However, patients with large adenomas (>20 mm) and preoperative GH greater than 50 ng/ml have a poor prognosis and require adjunctive medical or radiation therapy to control GH hypersecretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1239-1245
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Acromegaly
  • Growth hormone
  • Insulin-like growth factor I
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Transsphenoidal surgery


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