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Cushing's disease in children and adolescents: 20 years of experience in a single neurosurgical center.

Neurosurgery 2005 August
OBJECTIVE: This is a retrospective analysis of 25 consecutive pediatric patients with Cushing's disease who underwent transsphenoidal surgery performed by a single neurosurgeon in a specialist center during a 20-year period. This article discusses the presentation of Cushing's disease, the endocrinological investigation with particular reference to bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS), the operative management with reference to specific pediatric difficulties of the transsphenoidal approach and the use of intraoperative image guidance, and the analysis of these cases as regards postoperative complications and outcomes of this rare condition in young patients.

METHODS: All patients underwent detailed endocrine investigation and imaging in the form of computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging. BIPSS was performed in 19 patients (76%), with successful lateralization of the side of the microadenoma in 14 (74%) and prediction of a central tumor in four (94% total prediction rate). Surgical removal was via the sublabial, paraseptal, transsphenoidal route.

RESULTS: There were 15 male and 10 female patients, with a mean age of 13.4 years (range, 6.6-17.8 yr). Weight gain was the most common presentation (100%), and then growth impairment (96%), fatigue and skin changes (64%), and hypertension (32%). Postoperative complications included growth hormone deficiency (36%), transient diabetes insipidus (12%), panhypopituitarism (4%), and transient cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea (4%). The median follow-up period was 59.5 months (range, 6-126 mo). Overall, 15 patients (60%) achieved surgical cure or remission, of which 14 outcomes were obtained using the results of BIPSS. Ten patients (40%) required postoperative radiotherapy to achieve "remission." There were no cases of meningitis, no neurological deficits, no reoperations, and no mortality.

CONCLUSION: Cushing's disease in children and adolescents is a rare illness. The accurate preoperative localization of the adenoma is essential for achieving good results. In this series, BIPSS was far more accurate in localizing the adenoma than computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Imaging, however, is useful for the exclusion of other intracranial problems. Transsphenoidal surgery was safe and efficacious in achieving cure in the majority of cases. The challenge of transsphenoidal surgery in this age group is the small pituitary fossa and the absence of sphenoid sinus aeration in some cases. We found the use of intraoperative neuronavigation to be an excellent aid in overcoming such anatomic difficulties.

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