To compare growth patterns of nonfunctioning and prolactin-producing pituitary macroadenomas, and to find whether their specific growth patterns are associated with clinically significant effects on vision.
Materials and Methods:
From our comprehensive provincial neuropituitary registry, we retrospectively identified 35 randomly selected patients each with nonfunctioning adenomas and prolactinomas >10 mm in any dimension. MRI scans were analyzed to determine the superior and inferior growth, volume, and maximum craniocaudal height of the adenomas. Patients underwent visual field testing at diagnosis. Continuous variables were compared using Student’s t test, the Mann–Whitney U test, and ANOVA. Categorical variables were compared using the chi-square test.
The mean height of prolactinomas (23.2±11.3 mm) was similar to nonfunctioning adenomas (22.3±9.3 mm, p=0.8), and so were mean tumor volumes (prolactinoma=5.9±8 ml vs. nonfunctioning adenoma=4.8±5 ml, p=0.47). However, the mean suprasellar growth for prolactinomas was 2.9±5.3 mm and 7.3±4.7 mm for nonfunctioning adenomas (p<0.001), and the mean infrasellar growth was 10.2±8.0 and 5.0±6.6 mm, respectively (p=0.04). The inferior growth pattern of prolactinomas was associated with a significantly lower likelihood of having visual field abnormalities (11.4 vs. 57.1%, p<0.001).
Prolactinomas have predominantly inferior growth compared to nonfunctioning adenomas and are less likely to cause vision changes.