Stereotactic radiosurgery of pituitary adenomas

E. D F Motti, M. Losa, S. Pieralli, A. Zecchinelli, B. Longobardi, E. Giugni, L. Ventrella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first gamma knife (GK) treatment of a pituitary adenoma in 1967 was meant as an alternative to the primitive surgical approaches that prevailed at the time, with consequent unsatisfactory results. Surprisingly, pituitary adenomas still account for only 7.8% of the 27,000 cases treated in GK centers worldwide. Transnasosphenoidal surgery has greatly improved and surgeons are reluctant to give up a relatively safe and effective operative technique. Radiosurgery is not currently vying to be the primary method of "surgery," but has a definite role following failed pituitary surgery and for tumors that extend into the cavernous sinus. Of 300 patients treated in our GK service, 30 had pituitary adenomas and most had undergone surgery. To date, we have not noted any side effects in the pituitary group. Published information is also reviewed and divided, where possible, into the pre-computed tomography (CT) era and the era of CT-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Growth hormone (GH)-secreting adenomas and prolactinomas tend to be larger and cannot be treated with the high doses successful against corticotropin (ACTH)-secreting tumors in Cushing's disease. Radiation fall-off is steep in GK radiosurgery, with the 20% isodose curve being only millimeters away from the point of maximal radiation. The effective dose has mostly been decided on the basis of maintaining safe levels at the sensitive perisellar neural structures. The safety of GK treatment (with no mortality and no permanent morbidity) is compared with other radiosurgical techniques. Good patient response owes much to the cumulative experience of GK pioneers and also to recent advances in images and computers that have enabled increasingly precise sterotaxic targeting and dose planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-114
Number of pages4
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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