Transsphenoidal pituitary surgery in the elderly is safe and effective

Erlick A C Pereira, Puneet Plaha, Aswin Chari, Menaka Paranathala, Nicholas Haslam, Angela Rogers, Tim Korevaar, Diane Tran, Remi Olarinde, Niki Karavitaki, Ashley B Grossman, Simon A Cudlip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECT: With an increasingly ageing population, the number of elderly people diagnosed with pituitary tumours continues to rise. There is a concern that with increasing age and comorbidities, there is higher anaesthetic risk, as well as peri-operative morbidity and mortality from pituitary surgery. This study aimed to audit the benefits and complications of transsphenoidal surgery performed in a large pituitary centre in elderly patients.

METHODS: Data on all elderly patients (age: ≥ 70 years) undergoing transsphenoidal surgery at a large tertiary referral centre between November 2003 and August 2012 were collected retrospectively.

RESULTS: A total of 104 operations were performed on 102 patients during 106 months. Median age was 75.2 years (range: 70-94) and 63 (61%) of the patients were male. Median follow-up was 15.2 months (range: 2.3-84.4). The majority presented with either peripheral visual field defects (26.4%) or pituitary hormone deficits (17.9%). A significant number (21.7%) of tumours were incidental radiological findings while investigating other diagnoses like stroke and dementia. 48.1% of operations were undertaken microscopically and the remaining 51.9% were endoscopic. Median hospital stay was 4 days (range: 3-18). Intra-operative complications included hypotension (1.9%) and blood loss requiring transfusion (2.9%). The 30-day complications included transient diabetes insipidus (9.6%), syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone secretion (8.7%), delayed cerebrospinal fluid leak requiring lumbar drainage (0.9%) with no patient requiring formal repair. There were no peri-operative deaths. Long-term assessment suggested 79% had improved or stable endocrine function with 7% achieving biochemical cure and 91% showed improved or stable visual fields.

CONCLUSIONS: Pituitary surgery in the elderly, whether microscopic or endoscopic, has low morbidity and mortality and is a safe and effective intervention for both symptom control and functional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-21
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Neurosurgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Adenoma
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Pituitary Neoplasms
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


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