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OBJECTIVE In elderly patients there are few data on the efficacy and safety of pituitary surgery and radiotherapy (DXT). The aim of the present study was to assess the mode of presentation, treatment and outcome of patients >64 years with a pituitary tumour presenting to a regional neuroendocrine service. DESIGN A retrospective case note review of all patients with a pituitary tumour, from 1986 to 1993, was performed with DXT information from computerized records. PATIENTS Forty-four patients were identified: median age 70 (65-83) years; 25 males; followed for a mean of 34 (range 0-84) months. RESULTS The commonest presenting symptom was with visual disturbance (24 patients) with a further 9 with asymptomatic visual field defects. Five patients had acromegaly and two prolactinoma. Thirty-two patients underwent transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) (with post-operative DXT in 14 cases) and 6 craniotomy. Two patients had DXT as the primary procedure and four were observed. Visual fields improved in 21 of 29 patients. Perioperative complications occurred significantly more often after craniotomy (5/6) than after TSS (6/32) (P<0.01). Eight patients died during the follow-up period (three deaths tumour related; one death followed DXT). CONCLUSIONS Pituitary adenoma is a remediable cause of visual disturbance in the elderly. Most tumours were non-functioning. Age alone is not a contraindication to active treatment particularly with transsphenoidal surgery and radiotherapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical Endocrinology

Publication Date





657 - 660