Criteria to define the biochemical remission of acromegaly following surgery have changed over the years, and the current use of stringent criteria needs a critical re-evaluation of the surgical results. On the other hand, few data are currently available concerning the possible impact of pituitary surgery on the quality of life of operated acromegalic patients. In this prospective study, we wished to evaluate the initial outcome and long-term recurrence rate in a large series of acromegalic patients operated on by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS), to carefully analyse predictive factors for surgical outcome and to point out possible additional effects of surgery in these patients. Ninety-two out of 98 operated patients could be considered for follow-up. Biochemical remission was strictly defined as plasma GH levels <1 ng/ml during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and normalisation of age-related IGF-I levels. Hormonal assessment, including an OGTT, was performed 6 months following surgery and then annually to evaluate pituitary function. Fifty-five per cent of patients achieved a biochemical remission of acromegaly. The remission rate at 6 months was 80% for patients with microadenoma and 50% for macroadenoma. Univariate analysis showed that a large extrasellar extension, preoperative high GH levels and dural invasion were correlated with a poor outcome of surgery while, according to multivariate analysis, only invasion of cavernous sinus and preoperative GH levels > 10 ng/ml were independent negative predictors. Mortality was 0% and the overall complication rate was about 10%. Pituitary function worsened in five patients but improved in 16 out of 30 patients with preoperative pituitary defects. No recurrence was observed during a median follow-up of about 8 years. We conclude that TSS is able to achieve a biochemical remission in more than half of acromegalic patients, and that the current criteria for remission seem to indicate a cure in most cases.
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