Updated: Apr 8, 2022
Pituitary tumors are now routinely removed with no incisions, simply using the natural openings of our nostrils and sinuses. By using the nostril as an entry point and opening the sinuses in the nose, we can gain access to the pituitary gland and associated tumor at its location along the bottom of the brain.
This allows the Neurosurgeon to remove the tumor though a very minimally invasive approach leading to quicker recovery times, shorter hospital stays, and better visualization to aid in more complete tumor removal.
Typically, a Neurosurgeon and an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon work together as a team to accomplish this task. The ENT surgeon will start the case, opening the sinuses, creating a pathway back to the sphenoid sinus, which is a sinus in the center of the head.
The pituitary gland is located on the other side of this sinus, making it a great way to access this gland and tumors of the gland. Once this pathway is created, the Neurosurgeon will perform the tumor removal by creating an opening in the bone of the back wall of the sphenoid sinus. After the tumor is removed, the Neurosurgeon and the ENT surgeon work together to patch the opening created in this sinus to remove the tumor. Packing material is then placed to hold the patch in place. Patients typically remain in the hospital between 4-7 days.
During the first month after surgery, patients will see the ENT surgeon several times to clean the nose and sinus cavities, helping to ensure these areas heal well and remain functional.