Objective: The aim of this study was to examine pituitary adenomas in a series of postmortem pituitaries by use of modern technologies of immunostaining, to classify the adenomas according to the current WHO classification and to analyse the possible associations to the available clinical data.
Methods: In this study, pituitaries of 3048 autopsy cases obtained from autopsy series of the years 1991–2004 were examined.
Results: A total of 334 pituitary adenomas were found in 316 pituitaries. One hundred and thirty-two sparsely granulated prolactin cell adenomas (39.5%), 75 null cell adenomas (22.5%) and 31 oncocytomas were diagnosed. Forty-six ACTH cell adenomas (13.8%, 27 densely granulated, 19 sparsely granulated) and one adenoma composed of Crooke’s cells were detected. Twenty-two gonadotroph cell adenomas (6.6%), seven GH cell adenomas (four sparsely granulated, three densely granulated), one mixed GH cell–PRL cell adenoma, two TSH cell adenomas, five plurihormonal adenoma type I, four plurihormonal adenoma type II and two α-subunit-only adenomas were seen. Six adenomas remained unclassified because the tissue was not contained in all sections for immunohistochemistry. Seventeen pituitaries included multiple tumours. The overall tumour size ranged from 0.1 to 20 mm in diameter. Among 76 adenomas (22.7%), which had a tumour size of ≥ 3 mm, only three tumours were macroadenomas corresponding to a tumour size of more than 10 mm. The evaluation of the available clinical data showed 99 cases of hypertension, 65 cases of diabetes mellitus, six patients with hyperthyroidism and four with hypothyroidism. No symptoms of adenohypophyseal hormone hypersecretion were reported. The statistical correlations to clinical data were discussed.
Conclusions: Adenomas in postmortem pituitaries differ from those in surgical series in proportion of adenoma types and biological behaviour.