OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to review the results of surgery for pediatric patients with Cushing's disease who were less than 18 years old and underwent transsphenoidal surgery in a specialized center during a 25-year period. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Retrospective study, in which the medical records, histology and pituitary imaging of 15 consecutive pediatric patients with Cushing's disease (mean age: 13 years) were evaluated by the same team of endocrinologists and a neurosurgeon from 1982 to 2006. Patients were considered cured when there was clinical adrenal insufficiency and serum cortisol levels were below 1. 8 µg/dL or 50 nmol/L after one, two, three, or seven days following surgery; they therefore required cortisone replacement therapy. Follow-up was for a median time of 11.5 years (range: 2 to 25 years). RESULTS: Clinical and biochemical cure was achieved in 9/15 patients (60%) exclusively after transsphenoidal surgery. Hypopituitarism was observed in four patients; growth hormone deficiency, in two; permanent diabetes insipidus, in one case. CONCLUSIONS: Cushing's disease is rare in children and adolescents. Transsphenoidal surgery is an effective and safe treatment in most of these patients. Plasma cortisol level < 1. 8 µg/dL following surgery is the treatment goal and is a good predictive factor for long-term cure of Cushing's disease.
Cushing's disease; pituitary tumor; transsphenoidal surgery; pediatric neurosurgery