The Shape grading system: a classification for growth patterns of pituitary adenomas

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:3181–3189

Long-term tumor control of pituitary adenomas may be achieved by gross total resection (GTR). Factors, which influence the extent of resection, are invasiveness, tumor size, and possibly tumor shape. Nevertheless, the latter factor has not been assessed so far and there is no classification for the different shapes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of different tumor shapes on GTR rates and outcome according to our proposed “Shape grading system.”

Methods In this retrospective single center study, the radiological outcome of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas was assessed with respect to the following previously defined growth patterns: spherical (Shape I), oval (Shape II), dumbbell (Shape III), mushroom (Shape IV), and polylobulated (Shape V).

Results A total of 191 patients were included (Shape I, n = 28 (15%); Shape II, n = 91 (48%); Shape III, n = 37 (19%); Shape IV, n = 12 (6%); Shape V, n = 23 (12%)). GTR was achieved in 101 patients (53%) with decreasing likelihood of GTR in higher shape grades (Shape I, n = 23 (82%); Shape II, n = 67 (74%); Shape III, n = 9 (24%); Shape IV, n = 2 (17%); Shape V, n = 0 (0%)). This correlated with larger tumor remnants, a higher risk of tumor recurrence/regrowth and therefore necessity of re-surgery and/or radiotherapy/radiosurgery.

Conclusion The “Shape grading system” may be used as a predictor of the outcome in nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. The higher the “Shape grade,” the higher the likelihood for lower GTR rates, larger tumor remnants, and need for further therapies.