Intraoperative Adrenocorticotropin Levels during Transsphenoidal Surgery for Cushing's Disease Do Not Predict Cure

Kathryn E. Graham, Mary H. Samuels, Hershel Raff, Stanley L. Barnwell, David M. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Recently, intraoperative rapid immunochemiluminometric assay (ICMA) ACTH measurements have been used to evaluate the completeness of resection of ectopic ACTH-secreting tumors. This study evaluates whether this method can be applied to patients undergoing transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) for Cushing's disease to predict complete pituitary tumor resection. Eighteen patients with Cushing's disease undergoing TSS had plasma ACTH concentrations measured by a standard ICMA every 10 min for l h immediately after pituitary tumor removal. Patients were evaluated postoperatively for cure by standard criteria. ACTH levels were evaluated for percentage decrease from baseline at each time point. Patients who were cured (n = 11) had statistically greater decreases in ACTH levels (mean decrease 54%) than patients who were not (n = 7; 26% mean decrease, P < 0.04). By Receiver-Operator Characteristic (ROC) analysis, a reduction of at least 40% best predicted which patients were cured and which were not cured. This level of reduction was observed in 82% of cured patients, and a reduction of less than 40% was observed in 71% of those not cured. The analysis misclassified 4 of the 18 patients, resulting in a diagnostic accuracy of 78%. Although the mean maximal decrease in ACTH concentrations after tumor removal was significantly different between cured and not cured patients with Cushing's disease, it was less dramatic than results in the previous ectopic ACTH study. This may relate to incomplete suppression and/or surgical manipulation of normal pituitary corticotrophs in patients with pituitary disease. In summary, in contrast to the ectopic ACTH syndrome, decline of plasma ACTH during TSS does not accurately predict complete tumor resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1776-1779
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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