Objective: Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) remains the recommended primary treatment for acromegaly. Long-term outcome data are not available for patients treated with gamma knife radiosurgery (STRS) as a primary treatment.
Design: Retrospective cohort study. Data collection: notes review, laboratory results, general physician notes, patient questionnaire and death certification.
Patients: Twenty acromegaly patients underwent primary STRS at the National Centre for Radiosurgery, Sheffield, UK, between 1985 and 2015.
Measurements: Biochemical control (GH/IGF1), hypopituitarism, morbidity and mortality were all recorded.
Results: At 20 years of follow-up, control was seen in all on acromegaly-specific medication (n = 12) and 75% of those off medication (3/4). Time for 50% to achieve control on medication was 3 years, and 7.4 years off medication. Median marginal radiation dose was 27.5 Gy, and median follow-up was 166.5 months. 53% of patients developed new hypopituitarism at a median follow-up of 146 months, and the development of first onset of hypopituitarism occurred as late as 20 years after treatment. With MRI planning, no other complications were noted. Three patients underwent subsequent TSS due to poor biochemical control. During follow-up, 7 patients died at a median age of 65 years. There were no STRS-related deaths.
Conclusion: This is the longest follow-up of patients who have undergone primary STRS for acromegaly. It shows low morbidity, but significant latency to biochemical control and new-onset hypopituitarism. This mandates very long-term follow-up for these patients. STRS has shown good long-term efficacy providing initial control can be afforded by optimal medical management. While TSS remains best practice, STRS offers an alternative for those in whom surgery is not an option.