More About Pituitary Tumors Minus iconIcon indicating subtraction, or that the element can be closed. Plus IconIcon indicating addition, or that the element can be opened. Arrow (down) icon.An arrow icon, usually indicating that the containing element can be opened and closed.

Transsphenoidal Surgery for Pituitary Tumors

Surgeon performs surgery to remove a tumor

The main treatment for most pituitary tumor patients is a minimally invasive operation called transsphenoidal surgery.

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeons are particularly experienced in using this technique, also called transnasal endoscopy, to remove pituitary gland tumors through the nose.

The approach allows MSK surgeons Viviane Tabar and Marc Cohen to bypass brain tissue, operating instead through an incision inside the nasal passage. An endoscope — a thin, lighted tube with a camera at its tip — is inserted through the nasal passage and the sinuses are opened up for a magnified view of the skull base.

Because the view is so clear, your surgeon is better able to remove all of a tumor while preserving normal, healthy tissue. The risk for neurologic complications with this technique is very low, and the surgery leaves no visible scar.

This high-definition approach is effective for small tumors hidden within the pituitary gland as well as for large tumors that extend to critical areas such as the optic nerves, cavernous sinus, and carotid artery.

Nasoseptal Flap

The nasoseptal flap refers to tissue in the nasal septum, the structure between the two airways of the nostrils. Surgeons are able to use this tissue to construct a seal between the brain and the nose after removal of large pituitary gland tumors or other skull base tumors.

The introduction of this minimally invasive approach in recent years has transformed surgery to remove pituitary tumors and other skull base tumors by providing a safe, reliable way to separate the brain from the nasal cavity and prevent leakage of cerebrospinal fluid. Our surgeons are experienced in using endoscopic approaches to complete the procedure.

The risk for neurological complications is very low, and the technique leaves no visible scar. Recovery can begin right away, because there is little or no need for external incisions to heal. Usually patients are discharged from the hospital after just two or three days.

Intraoperative MRI for Pituitary Tumor Surgery

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, our patients benefit from the use of intraoperative MRI to assist in the removal of pituitary gland tumors.

An MRI is a test that uses strong magnetic fields to produce pictures of the inside of your body. Intraoperative MRI refers to the use of an MRI scanner during surgery.

The pictures produced by an MRI show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. MRI scans do not involve the use of radiation.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of just a handful at hospitals around the country to use intraoperative MRI. This advanced technology allows our surgeons to confirm that a tumor has been entirely removed while patients are still under anesthesia.

This enhanced accuracy not only helps to preserve healthy tissue and prevent postoperative complications but also reduces the likelihood that a second surgery will be needed.