Anatomic Variations in Pituitary Endocrinopathies: Implications for the Surgical Corridor

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Abstract

Objectives/Hypotheses

Functioning pituitary adenomas may produce endocrinopathies such as acromegaly and Cushing syndrome. Both conditions lead to characteristic anatomic variations as a result of hormonally induced abnormal soft tissue deposition. We evaluate the anatomic differences between acromegalics and Cushing disease patients and compare these dimensions to controls.

Design

Radiographic review of preoperative magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the pituitary gland.

Setting

Tertiary academic medical center.

Participants

Patients who underwent transnasal, transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenomas found to have acromegaly or pituitary Cushing between January 1, 2007 and September 1, 2015. A total of 15 patients with similar MRIs and no history of pituitary or sinonasal disease were selected as controls.

Main Outcome Measures

Dimensions assessed were intercarotid distance; carotid canal width; piriform aperture width; distance from the piriform aperture to the anterior face of the sphenoid; sphenoid sinus height, width, and length; angle from anterior nasal spine to anteroinferior face of sphenoid sinus; choanal height; and nasal cavity height at the level of the vertical segment of the middle turbinate. Sphenoid sinus pneumatization patterns were recorded.

Results

There were 30 acromegalics and 31 Cushing disease patients. When compared with controls, both acromegalics and Cushing disease patients had significantly wider piriform apertures and a longer distance from the piriform aperture to the anterior face of the sphenoid sinus (p < 0.05). Acromegalics had a significantly less acute angle (19 ± 3 degrees) from the anterior nasal spine to the sphenoid (p < 0.05). Cushing disease patients had significantly lower sphenoid sinus length and shorter nasal cavity height (p < 0.05). There were no differences in intercarotid distance or carotid canal width.

Conclusions

As acromegalics and Cushing disease patients have known anatomic variations, the skull base surgeon should be aware of these differences and adapt their techniques and approaches as needed.

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