Is Complex Sphenoidal Sinus Anatomy a Contraindication to a Transsphenoidal Approach for Resection of Sellar Lesions? Case Series and Review of the Literature

Marco Locatelli, Andrea Di Cristofori, Riccardo Draghi, Giulio Bertani, Claudio Guastella, Lorenzo Pignataro, Giovanna Mantovani, Paolo Rampini, Giorgio Carrabba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background The transsphenoidal approach is considered the gold standard for resection of pituitary adenomas and other sellar region lesions. This approach is guided by a few fundamental anatomic landmarks that conduct the surgeon toward the sellar floor. Some anatomic structures may vary a lot (e.g., intrasphenoidal septa, intercarotid distance) and may be difficult to identify. Pneumatization and conformation of the sphenoidal sinus (SS) plays a key role in accessing the floor of the sella and other skull base structures. A poorly pneumatized SS may be a relative contraindication to the transsphenoidal approach. We analyzed outcome and complications in transsphenoidal surgery for sellar lesions with a difficult SS. Methods We analyzed 243 consecutive patients who underwent a transsphenoidal approach for sellar lesions. Patients with poor pneumatization of the SS were included. Neurosurgical and endocrinologic outcomes were reported. Results Successful treatment using a transsphenoidal approach with neuronavigation and Doppler ultrasound was achieved in 15 patients with a low degree of pneumatization of the SS. A pituitary adenoma was present in 13 of 15 patients. Endocrinologic and neurosurgical outcomes were similar to patients with normal pneumatization of the SS, showing a cure of disease in 6 of 9 patients with functioning adenomas and an improvement of symptoms in cases of nonfunctioning adenomas. Conclusions Patients with a poorly pneumatized SS can be treated safely with a transsphenoidal approach using image guidance techniques to avoid major neurovascular complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017



  • Image-guided surgery
  • Pituitary adenomas
  • Sphenoidal sinus
  • Sphenoidal sinus pneumatization
  • Transsphenoidal surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this