Surgical and radiosurgical treatment strategies for Cushing’s disease

  • Adomas Bunevicius
  • Edward R. Laws
  • Mary Lee Vance
  • Sherry Iuliano
  • Jason SheehanEmail author
Topic Review



Cushing’s disease (CD) is rare disorder that should be adequately managed to optimize long-term prognosis. Treatment of CD is multidisciplinary and often includes surgical resection, adjuvant stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and medical treatment. Here we review surgical and radiosurgical treatment strategies for ACTH producing pituitary adenomas.


A comprehensive literature review was carried out to review remission and recurrence rates, and complications of surgical and SRS treatments of ACTH producing pituitary adenomas.


Surgical resection plays a central role in the management of ACTH secreting pituitary adenomas and usually allows rapid endocrine remission that ranges from 69 to 90%. The most common complications after resection include some degree of new hypopituitarism, diabetes insipidus and CSF leak. Devastating complications, such as injury of vascular and neural structures, are very rare. Surgeon experience and adequate pre-operative imaging are important for safe and successful surgery. Endocrine recurrence rates after resection range from 9 to 30%. SRS is often employed for incompletely resected adenomas. Endocrine remission after SRS ranges from 35 to 72%. The most common complication of SRS is new anterior pituitary gland deficiency. Recurrence rates after GKRS range from 18 to 24%.


Transsphenoidal resection of ACTH producing pituitary adenoma is a safe and highly effective procedure for CD in experienced hands. Radiosurgery is more frequently used as treatment of residual and recurrent adenoma and persistent CD. Long-term endocrine and imaging follow-up is important as delayed recurrences and hypopituitarism are not infrequent.


Cushing’s disease Pituitary adenoma Surgery Radiosurgery Gamma knife 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors report no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women’s HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA
  4. 4.University of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA

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