Surgical Treatment of Pituitary Tumors in the Elderly: Clinical Outcome and Long-term Follow-up
BACKGROUND The surgical treatment of pituitary adenomas in elderly patients (i.e., over 70 years of age) is a special problem because of the increased rate of perioperative complications and the reduced tolerance of postoperative fluid and electrolyte imbalance. Therefore, the unquestionable progress in the pharmacological and radiotherapy may not allow these patients the option of radical surgical treatment. We report our experience with the transsphenoidal procedure for pituitary adenomas in aged patients in an attempt to contribute to a better definition of the actual role of surgery. METHODS Transsphenoidal surgery was performed in 11 patients over 70 years of age affected by various histological types of pituitary micro- and macroadenomas, ranging from Hardy Grade I through IIIc. Special care was dedicated to the postoperative treatment, in particular to water and electrolyte balances, and to the immediate treatment of any pathological variation of these parameters. RESULTS We had no mortality and no postoperative adjunctive morbidity. All the patients recovered well from the operation with an average hospital stay of 20 days. The tumor removal was complete in six cases and partial in the remaining five. With an average follow-up of 2 years, we did observe only one case of symptomatic recurrence of the disease. CONCLUSIONS Transsphenoidal surgery in the elderly is feasible and quite safe in the hands of an experienced team, if special care is devoted to the preoperative selection of patients and to the postoperative treatment of fluid and electrolyte imbalance.