Gonadotroph adenoma of the pituitary gland: a clinicopathologic analysis of 100 cases

William F. Young, Bernd W. Scheithaler, Kalman T. Kovacs, Eva Horvath, Dudley H. Davis, Raymond V. Randall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the clinical and pathologic features in a large cohort of randomly selected patients with gonadotroph pituitary adenomas. Design: We retrospectively reviewed clinical, surgical, and pathologic findings in 100 patients (79 men and 21 women, 30 to 82 years old) with this tumor. Results: Diagnosis of a pituitary tumor was prompted by visual loss (43%), symptoms of hypopituitaristn (22%), headache (8%), or a combination of these findings (10%); 17% of the patients were asymptomatic. Visual field defects were present in 68% of the study group, and complete or partial anterior pituitary failure was present in 77%. Serum prolactin concentrations were increased (maximum, 110 ng/mL) in 33% of patients. Hypersécrétion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) was documented in 11 and 5 patients, respectively. The serum level of a-subunit was increased in 1 of 29 patients in whom it was measured. All patients had pituitary macroadenomas, only 21% of which were grossly invasive. The surgical approach was transsphenoidal in all but two patients, who underwent transfrontal craniotomy; gross total tumor resection was achieved in 90%. By definition, all tumors had at least 10% immunoreactivity for LH, FSH, or both. All tumors were chromophobic. Ultrastructurally, the tumors were characterized as gonadotroph adenomas of "male" (45%) or "female" (9%) type as well as null-cell adenomas of the oncocytic (35%) or nononcocytic (11%) type. After a median follow-up of 4.3 years, 69% of the patients who had had visual field defects noted normalization or improvement. Persistent or clinically recurrent pituitary tumor tissue was present in 42%. A second pituitary surgical procedure was required in eight patients. Conclusion: Most patients with clinically evident gonadotroph pituitary tumors have loss of vision and hypopituitarism. Hypersécrétion of FSH or LH is unusual, and no distinct hormone-dependent clinical phenotype is present. Transsphenoidal surgical treatment generally yields normalization or improvement of visual field defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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