The most common procedure to remove pituitary tumors is transsphenoidal adenomectomy. It allows the removal of the tumor with minimal damage to the surrounding structures. The surgical team accesses the pituitary gland through the sphenoid sinus — a hollow space behind the nasal passages and below the pituitary gland.
If performed in specialized centers and by an experienced pituitary surgeon, this type of surgery is reported to result in an overall cure rate, or full remission, of Cushing’s disease for 80% to 90% of patients. A higher success rate is seen with smaller tumors.
However, reported remission rates vary considerably, mainly due to differences in the criteria used to define disease remission.
In some cases, a second transsphenoidal adenomectomy is required to fully remove tumor tissue; in others, the initial surgical procedure is paired with a second form of treatment, such as radiation therapy or certain medications.
Given the complexity of the procedure, the guidelines recommend patients undergo surgery in specialized Pituitary Tumor Centers of Excellence. Patients also are advised to have the surgery performed by an experienced pituitary neurosurgeon.
Follow-up for all patients should be conducted by a multidisciplinary team, including a pituitary endocrinologist.
Lifelong monitoring for disease recurrence is required.