Background Several retrospective investigations have recommended more passive surgical indications for intratumoral hemorrhage of pituitary adenomas due to probable spontaneous resolution. However, no definitive analyses have compared pituitary adenomas with hemorrhagic apoplexy and intratumoral hemorrhage without evident apoplectic symptoms or pituitary adenoma infarction. Methods This study retrospectively identified 43 patients with symptomatic pituitary apoplexy among 1067 patients with pituitary adenomas initially treated by surgery at a single institute between April 2005 and May 2015, with 27 cases of hemorrhagic (2.53%) and 16 cases of ischemic apoplexy (1.50%). The inclusion criteria involved evident and sudden onset of symptoms and simultaneous histological confirmation as hemorrhagic or ischemic pituitary apoplexy. Diagnostic differentiation with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed to examine the agreement between MR imaging and histological findings, and the clinical appearance and mid-term prognosis were compared for ischemic pituitary apoplexy and hemorrhagic apoplexy. Results Diagnostic matching with MR imaging could be performed in 41 of 43 patients (25 with hemorrhagic and 16 with ischemic apoplexy). Agreement with the histological finding was found in 32 of 41 patients overall (78%), 23 of 25 patients with hemorrhagic apoplexy (92%), and 9 of 16 patients with ischemic apoplexy (56%). The main reason for diagnostic discrepancy was thought to be the difficulty in identifying ischemic lesion. All patients in the ischemic group suffered progression of symptoms from initial onset including various cranial nerve palsies, aseptic meningitis, and decreased level of consciousness, whereas the hemorrhagic group suffered progression in 4 of 27 patients. Ischemic group showed a statistically stronger tendency to disease progression than the hemorrhagic group (P < 0.001). Endocrinological examinations showed 4 patients required no hormone supplement therapies but the other 11 patients had persistent hypopituitarism and required hormone supplementation in the ischemic group, whereas 2 of 25 patients required hormone supplementation in the hemorrhagic group. Endocrinological recovery showed a significant difference between the ischemic group and hemorrhagic group (P < 0.01). Conclusions Ischemic pituitary adenoma apoplexy has a more severe clinical course than hemorrhagic apoplexy. Development of preoperative diagnostic technology to differentiate ischemic from hemorrhagic apoplexy is required to improve the low rate of agreement between the histological and MR imaging findings in patients with ischemic apoplexy.
- Pituitary apoplexy
- Transsphenoidal approach