Clinically Nonsecreting Pituitary Adenomas in Childhood and Adolescence

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Clinically nonsecreting pituitary adenomas are rare in childhood and adolescence. We analyzed five cases of clinically nonsecreting pituitary adenomas in patients (4 male and 1 female patient) under 20 years of age at surgery (0.22%), identified by a review of 2288 patients with pituitary adenomas treated from 1970 to 1996 at the Hamburg University.


Patient age at the onset of symptoms ranged from 8 to 13 years (mean, 10.8 yr), and age at surgery ranged from 12.5 to 19.5 years (mean, 15.5 yr). Two patients presented with endocrine symptoms, two with headache only, and one with a visual field defect. Endocrinological examinations showed pituitary insufficiency in two patients with endocrine symptoms. The serum prolactin level was normal in all patients. Radiological investigations demonstrated resectable macroadenomas with ring enhancement in four patients and a nonresectable macroadenoma with parasellar extension in one. Transnasal explorations achieved radical tumor resection except in one patient. The latter underwent a transcranial resection and radiotherapy because of parasellar tumor rest. Surgical morbidity consisted of left oculomotor nerve palsy after transcranial exploration. In two patients, normal pituitary function was preserved by transnasal surgery. Follow-up duration was 2 to 23 years (mean, 10.9 yr). There was no recurrence except for one parasellar adenoma. Immunohistological diagnosis was null cell adenoma in two patients, silent prolactinoma in two, and silent gonadotroph adenoma in one. The proliferative activity measured by Ki-67 (as the antibody MIB-1) and p53 expression revealed a positive reaction in one adenoma with parasellar extension.


Clinically nonsecreting pituitary adenomas in childhood and adolescence cause different endocrine symptoms from those in adults. They caused pubertal and growth delay and/or primary amenorrhea in the patients investigated in this study. Transnasal surgery in childhood and adolescence is as safe as in adults. The characteristics of nonsecreting pituitary adenomas in this age group, including 20 patients cited from the literature, do not differ from those in adults.

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