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A retrospective analysis of pituitary apoplexy.

Bills DC, Meyer FB, Laws ER Jr, Davis DH, Ebersold MJ, Scheithauer BW, Ilstrup DM, Abboud CF.

Neurosurgery. 1993 Oct;33(4):602-8; discussion 608-9.


Thirty-seven patients with pituitary apoplexy were analyzed with an emphasis on clinical presentation and visual outcome. Their mean age was 56.6 years, with a male to female ratio of 2:1. Presenting symptoms included headache (95%), vomiting (69%), ocular paresis (78%), and reduction in visual fields (64%) or acuities (52%). Computed tomographic scanning correctly identified pituitary hemorrhage in only 46% of those scanned. Thirty-six patients underwent transsphenoidal decompression. By immunostaining criteria, null-cell adenomas were the most frequent tumor type (50%). Long-term steroid or thyroid hormone replacement therapy was necessary in 82% and 89% of patients, respectively. Long-term desmopressin therapy was required in 11%, and 64% of the male patients required testosterone replacement therapy. Surgery resulted in improvement in visual acuity deficits in 88%, visual field deficits in 95%, and ocular paresis in 100%. Analysis of the degree of improvement in preoperative visual deficits with the timing of the surgery demonstrated that those who underwent surgery within a week of apoplexy had significant recovery in their visual acuities. In the stable, conscious patient with residual vision in each eye, surgical decompression should be performed as soon as possible, because delays beyond 1 week may retard the return of visual function.

Department of Neurologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

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