Transsphenoidal hypophysectomy for treatment of pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism in 7 cats

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Meij BP, Voorhout G, Van Den Ingh TS, et al.

Veterinary Surgery 2001;30:72-86.

OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of microsurgical transsphenoidal hypophysectomy for the treatment of pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) in cats. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective clinical study. ANIMALS OR SAMPLE POPULATION: Seven cats with PDH. METHODS: Urinary cortisol/creatinine ratios, pituitary-adrenocortical function tests, and computed tomography (CT) were performed on 7 cats that presented with a provisional diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism. All cats underwent microsurgical transsphenoidal hypophysectomy with histologic examination of the excised specimen. Follow-up consisted of clinical evaluation, repeat adrenocortical function testing, and CT. RESULTS: Four cats had concurrent diabetes mellitus. In all cats, the urinary cortisol/creatinine (C/C) ratios were elevated. The dexamethasone screening test showed that 2 cats did not meet the criterion for hyperadrenocorticism. The response of the cats’ plasma concentrations of cortisol and adrenocorticotrophic hormone to a high dose of dexamethasone varied from very sensitive to completely dexamethasone resistant. Basal plasma alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone concentrations were elevated in 2 cats with a pars intermedia adenoma and in 3 cats with an adenoma that originated from the anterior lobe. Preoperative CT enabled accurate assessment of pituitary size (5 nonenlarged pituitaries with a height <4 mm and 2 enlarged pituitaries with a height >5 mm) and localization relative to intraoperative anatomic landmarks. Two cats died within 4 weeks after surgery of a nonrelated disease. In the remaining 5 cats, the hyperadrenocorticism went into both clinical and biochemical remission. Hyperadrenocorticism recurred in 1 cat after 19 months, but no other therapy was given and the cat died at home 28 months after surgery. CT evaluation of this cat had identified pituitary remnants 6 weeks after surgery. The main postoperative complications were oronasal fistula (1 cat), complete dehiscence of the soft palate (1 cat), and transient reduction of tear production (1 cat). One cat died at 6 months (undefined anemia), and another cat at 8 months (recurrent nose and middle ear infection secondary to soft palate dehiscence) after surgery. In the surviving 2 cats, the remission periods at the time of writing were 46 and 15 months. In the 2 cats with sufficient follow-up time, the concurrent diabetes mellitus disappeared, ie, insulin treatment could be discontinued at 4 weeks and 5 months after hypophysectomy. In all 7 cats, the histologic diagnosis was pituitary adenoma. CONCLUSIONS: Microsurgical transsphenoidal hypophysectomy is an effective method of treatment for feline PDH in specialized veterinary institutions having access to advanced pituitary imaging techniques. Concurrent diabetes mellitus is usually reversible after hypophysectomy. Thorough presurgical screening for coexisting diseases is imperative. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: PDH in cats can be effectively treated by hypophysectomy. The neurosurgeon performing hypophysectomy must master a learning curve and must be familiar with the most frequent complications of the operation to treat them immediately and effectively. Urinary C/C ratios are sensitive indicators for the assessment of remission and recurrence of hyperadrenocorticism.