J Neurosurg 112:108–117, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2009.3.JNS0929)
The standard transsphenoidal approach has been successfully used to resect most pituitary adenomas. However, as a result of the limited exposure provided by this procedure, complete surgical removal of pituitary adenomas with parasellar or retrosellar extension remains problematic. By additional bone removal of the cranial base, the extended transsphenoidal approach provides better exposure to the parasellar and clival region compared with the standard approach. The authors describe their surgical experience with the extended transsphenoidal approach to remove pituitary adenomas invading the anterior cranial base, cavernous sinus (CS), and clivus. Methods. Retrospective analysis was performed in 126 patients with pituitary adenomas that were surgically treated via the extended transsphenoidal approach between September 1999 and March 2008. There were 55 male and 71 female patients with a mean age of 43.4 years (range 12–75 years). There were 82 cases of macroadenoma and 44 cases of giant adenoma. Results. Gross-total resection was achieved in 78 patients (61.9%), subtotal resection in 43 (34.1%), and partial resection in 5 (4%). Postoperative complications included transient cerebrospinal rhinorrhea (7 cases), incomplete cranial nerve palsy (5), panhypopituitarism (5), internal carotid artery injury (2), monocular blindness (2), permanent diabetes insipidus (1), and perforation of the nasal septum (2). No intraoperative or postoperative death was observed. Conclusions. The extended transsphenoidal approach provides excellent exposure to pituitary adenomas invading the anterior cranial base, CS, and clivus. This approach enhances the degree of tumor resection and keeps postoperative complications relatively low. However, radical resection of tumors that are firm, highly invasive to the CS, or invading multidirectionally remains a big challenge. This procedure not only allows better visualization of the tumor and the neurovascular structures but also provides significant working space under the microscope, which facilitates intraoperative manipulation. Preoperative imaging studies and new techniques such as the neuronavigation system and the endoscope improve the efficacy and safety of tumor resection.