Preoperative assessment for pituitary surgery

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Evaluation of pituitary function is essential before pituitary surgery. In hyperprolactinaemic patients with a pituitary macrolesion, tumoral secretion of prolactin must be distinguished from ‘disconnection’ hyperprolactinaemia; serum prolactin >200 mcg/l is virtually diagnostic of a macroprolactinoma whereas levels <80 mcg/l usually indicate ‘disconnection’. The prolactin ‘hook effect’ should be excluded. A minimum set of pre-operative endocrine tests should include serum electrolytes, cortisol (at 08.00–09.00 h), free-T4, TSH, prolactin, oestradiol/testosterone, LH, FSH and IGF-1. Some clinicians will choose to perform pre-operative Synacthen or insulin tolerance testing to further define ACTH reserve. If basal cortisol, Synacthen or insulin tolerance test results are abnormal, steroid supplementation is indicated for at least the first 48 h after surgery. If pre-operative basal cortisol is <100 nmol/l, replacement steroids should be continued until the time of post-operative pituitary function testing (6–8 weeks after surgery). In patients with pre-operative basal cortisol >450 nmol/l, peri-operative glucocorticoid replacement is unnecessary and further cortisol levels should be checked a few days after surgery. Most clinicians defer detailed evaluation of growth hormone reserve until after surgery. Diabetes insipidus is rarely a problem before surgery in patients with pituitary adenomas but may occur post-operatively. Close co-operation between anesthetic, endocrine and surgical teams is strongly recommended.

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