A prospective multi-center observational study of surgical versus non-surgical management for pituitary apoplexy.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism


california; santa monica; pni; Pituitary apoplexy; registry; transsphenoidal surgery; treatment outcomes


OBJECTIVE: Pituitary apoplexy (PA) has been traditionally considered a neurosurgical emergency, yet retrospective single-institution studies suggest similar outcomes among patients managed medically. We established a multicenter international prospective registry to compare presentation and outcomes in PA patients treated with surgery or medical management alone.

METHODS: A centralized database captured demographics, comorbidities, clinical presentation, visual findings, hormonal status, and imaging features at admission. Treatment was determined independently by each site. Key outcomes included visual, oculomotor, and hormonal recovery, complications, and hospital length of stay. Outcomes were also compared based on time from symptom onset to surgery, and from admission or transfer to the treating center. Statistical testing compared treatment groups based on two-sided hypotheses and p < 0.05.

RESULTS: 100 consecutive PA patients from 12 hospitals were enrolled, and 97 (67 surgical and 30 medical) were evaluable. Demographics, clinical features, presenting symptoms, hormonal deficits, and imaging findings were similar between groups. Severe temporal visual field deficit was more common in surgical patients. At 3 and 6 months, hormonal, visual, and oculomotor outcomes were similar. Stratifying based on severity of visual fields demonstrated no difference in any outcome at 3 months. Timing of surgery did not impact outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: We found that medical and surgical management of PA yield similar 3-month outcomes. Although patients undergoing surgery had more severe visual field deficits, we could not clearly demonstrate that surgery led to better outcomes. Even without surgery, apoplectic tumor volumes regress substantially within 2-3 months, indicating that surgery is not always needed to reduce mass effect.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)