, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 45–51 | Cite as

Surgery for prolactinomas: a better choice?

  • Jürgen HoneggerEmail author
  • Isabella Nasi-Kordhishti
  • Nuran Aboutaha
  • Sabrina Giese



Renewed interest in transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) as a therapeutic option for prolactinomas has emerged.


Based on contemporary literature and own experience, the changing role of surgery for treatment of prolactinomas is discussed.


Today, TSS is performed by minimally invasive microscopic or endoscopic techniques. Normoprolactinemia is obtained in 71–100% of patients with microprolactinomas by TSS. Almost equal results are found in circumscribed intrasellar macroprolactinomas. In experienced hands, pituitary function is preserved in TSS. The risk of cardiac valve disease is still a concern with ergot-derived dopamine-agonists (DAs) in patients requiring long-term, high-dose dopamine-agonist (DA) treatment. Cost-utility analysis favors TSS over DA treatment. The possible negative impact of DA treatment on future surgical results is still a controversial and unsettled issue. In patients who wish to become pregnant, the advantages of microprolactinoma removal to avoid DAs and macroprolactinoma debulking to avoid symptomatic enlargement during pregnancy should be discussed with the patients. Young patients’ age is an argument for surgery to circumvent the unpredictable sequelae of long-term DA treatment. Surgery should be discussed in male gender because of a higher likelihood of DA resistance and aggressive behavior of prolactinoma.


Given excellent results of TSS and concerns about medical treatment, the scale of indications for TSS as an alternative to DAs has increased. The patient’s wishes concerning a chance at a cure with TSS instead of a long-term treatment with DAs has become an important and accepted indication. With DA medication and TSS, two effective treatment modalities for prolactinomas are available that can be used in a complementary fashion.


Prolactinoma Hyperprolactinemia Transsphenoidal surgery Dopamine-agonists Hypopituitarism Endocrinological outcome 



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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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