Used specifically for the removal of tumors from the pituitary gland, sphenoid sinus and sellar region, endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery (a minimally-invasive procedure) requires only the use of an endocope, with which a surgeon can access a tumor through a patient’s nose.

In addition to pituitary tumors, endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery can be utilized to treat Rathke’s cysts (a benign cyst filled with a thick fluid contained within walls formed by epithelial cells); meningioma (an intracranial tumor of the membrane covering the brain); craniopharyngioma (small, slow-growing benign tumors near the pituitary gland); and chordoma (rare and cancerous tumors that develop along the spine).

With a patient under general anesthesia, the surgeon inserts an endoscope in a nostril and extends it to back of the nasal cavity, removing a section of bone to access the sphenoid sinus. The sinus and the dura membrane are cut through to expose the pituitary gland, and the surgeon removes the tumor. A graft of fat tissue (usually taken from the abdomen) is placed in the cavity where the tumor was located, and a bone graft is inserted to close the area where the section of bone was removed. After being glued in place, splits are inserted on the side of the septum to manage swelling and bleeding.

After the procedure a patient is taken to a recovery room for observation and monitoring. Upon awakening, it’s normal to experience a headache or nasal congestion, which can be managed with medication if necessary. And typically within two days of the surgery a patient is discharged from the hospital and sent home to continue their recovery.