Giant prolactinomas: Clinical management and long-term follow up

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Object. Giant prolactinomas are rare tumors whose treatment and outcome has only been addressed in isolated case reports. The authors document the long-term follow-up findings and clinical outcome in a group of patients with giant prolactinomas. Methods. This study is a retrospective chart and clinical review of more than 2000 cases of pituitary tumors treated at the authors' institution, of which 10 met the criteria for inclusion (prolactin level > 1000 ng/ml, diameter > 4 cm on neuroimaging studies, and clinical signs of hyperprolactinemia/mass effect). The average follow-up duration was 6.7 years after initial treatment with either bromocriptine or transsphenoidal resection, In more than 90% of the patients in this series the disease was controlled by medical treatment with bromocriptine alone; the other 10% required early surgery via transsphenoidal resection. All patients had improvement in visual symptoms. All tumors had extrasellar components, five of which exhibited frank invasion of the cavernous sinus. Tumor volume on magnetic resonance imaging was decreased on average by 69%; this occurred at a faster rate and in larger amounts when treated with bromocriptine than has been reported in the literature for macroprolactinomas. Conclusions. According to long-term follow-up findings, giant prolactinomas are exquisitely responsive to dopamine agonist therapy. In giant prolactinomas the prolactin level does not correlate with size. The main indication for early surgery is intratumoral hematoma, whereas our main indications for late surgery are cerebrospinal fluid leakage caused by medical treatment, or an increasing prolactin level despite medical therapy. Checking prolactin levels in suspicious sellar and/or suprasellar lesions may be diagnostic and prevent unnecessary surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bromocriptine
  • Neurosurgery
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Prolactinoma


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