Cushing's disease: A prospective case-control study of health-related quality of life and cognitive status before and after surgery

Barbara Zarino, Elisa Verrua, Emanuele Ferrante, Elisa Sala, Giulia Carosi, Claudia Giavoli, Andreea L. Serban, Giulia Del Sindaco, Martina A. Sirtori, Giulio A. Bertani, Paolo Rampini, Giorgio G. Carrabba, Maura Arosio, Anna Spada, Marco Locatelli, Giovanna Mantovani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE Some studies have highlighted psychological and neuropsychological difficulties and a potential reduction in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with pituitary tumors, despite hormone deficits or excess. To the authors' knowledge, this study is the first prospective longitudinal case-control study with the aim of simultaneously testing whether HRQOL and psychiatric and neuropsychological disabilities are related to neural dysfunction due to hypercortisolism per se, or tumor mass and/or surgery in patients with Cushing's disease (CD). The authors evaluated a homogeneous cohort of patients with CD and nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs) before and after neurosurgery and compared these patients with healthy controls. METHODS Twenty patients (10 with NFPA and 10 with CD) were evaluated using 3 validated questionnaires (SF-36, Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II], and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-II [MMPI-II]) to assess HRQOL and psychological status preoperatively and 12 months after neurosurgery. Neuropsychological tests were assessed preoperatively, 3-7 days postoperatively, and 12 months postoperatively. Twenty healthy matched controls were recruited. RESULTS Preoperatively, the NFPA and CD subgroups had worse HRQOL scores than controls on the basis of SF-36 scores, although the NFPA subgroup experienced significant recovery 12 months postoperatively. Preoperatively, CD patients had depressive symptoms according to the BDI-II and MMPI-II that persisted 12 months postoperatively, together with social introversion and hypochondriasis; NFPA patients were similar to controls except for hypochondriasis scores that were clinically significant at all timepoints. Preoperatively and 3-7 days postoperatively, both subgroups showed significant neuropsychological disabilities compared with controls, but only the CD subgroup did not completely recover over time. CONCLUSIONS HRQOL and neuropsychological impairments were observed in all patients at early timepoints, independent of hypercortisolism, tumor mass, and successful surgery. Over time, CD patients showed persistent changes in HRQOL, in particular in social activities. In this light, CD seems to have a strong impact on HRQOL and to be associated with more psychological and neuropsychological comorbidities than NFPA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1721-1731
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery
  • Hypercortisolism
  • Neuropsychological evaluation
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Pituitary surgery
  • Prospective case-control study
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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