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The use of image-guidance during transsphenoidal pituitary surgery in the United States

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Intraoperative image guidance is a useful modality for transsphenoidal pituitary surgery. However, the outcomes associated with this technology have not been systematically evaluated.


The purpose of the study was to quantify complication rates with and without the use of image guidance during transsphenoidal pituitary surgery using a nationwide database with broadly applicable results.


A retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample was performed from 2007 to 2011. Transsphenoidal pituitary resections for adenomas were identified by International Classification of Diseases-9th Revision, Clinical Modification code. The effect of image guidance on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak complications and cost-benefit was analyzed.


A total of 48,848 transsphenoidal pituitary resections were identified, of which 77.5% were partial resections and 22.5% were complete. Pathologic indications included benign (89.3%), malignant primary (0.6%), and malignant secondary (0.4%). Complications included same-stay death (0.4%), CSF leak (8.8%), postoperative CSF rhinorrhea (1.9%), diabetes insipidus (12.4%), and meningitis (0.4%). Image guidance was employed in 7% (n = 3401) of all cases. When analyzed by modality, computed tomography (CT)-assisted procedures had lower CSF rhinorrhea rates (1.1%) compared with cases with no image guidance (1.9%), whereas magnetic resonance (MR)-assisted procedures had the highest rates (2.7%, χ2 p < 0.001). Rates of CSF leak demonstrated a similar pattern (CT 6.4%, no image guidance 8.9%, MR 9.2%, χ2 p < 0.001). CT-assisted surgery had significantly shorter length of stay (2.9 days) versus no image guidance (3.7 days, p < 0.001), lower total charges ($47,589 versus $62,629, p < 0.001), and lower total cost ($16,748 versus $20,530, p < 0.001).


CT-assisted surgery is associated with a lower rate of CSF leak, shorter length of stay, and lower cost compared with patients without image guidance. Further studies that control for severity and extent of disease are warranted to confirm this finding.
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Keywords: Image-guided surgery; cerebrospinal fluid leak; computed tomography-assisted surgery; image guidance; magnetic resonance imaging-assisted surgery; nationwide inpatient sample cost and charge data; pituitary adenoma; transsphenoidal pituitary surgery

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery/Division of Otolaryngology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Publication date: 01 May 2015

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