Research Article

Treatment of Nelson's syndrome by pituitary implantation of yttrium-90 or gold-198.

Br Med J 1976; 2 doi: (Published 31 July 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;2:269
  1. J Cassar,
  2. F H Doyle,
  3. P D Lewis,
  4. K Mashiter,
  5. S Noorden,
  6. G F Joplin


    Eight patients with Nelson's syndrome were treated with a pituitary implant of yttrium-90 or gold-198 four to 16 years after adrenal surgery. All had considerable pigmentation. One already had cranial nerve abnormalities and visual field defects and had had both a craniotomy and deep x-ray treatment. Radiographs showed that the pituitary fossa was abnormal in seven patients. A biopsy performed in six cases showed mucoid (or basophil) adenoma in all. In the four specimens examined ACTH was identified by electron microscopy or immunofluorescence, or both. Patients were followed up after pituitary implantation for three months to 12 years. All showed decreased pigmentation, and six became normal. Four patients regained normal ACTH levels and the other two studied had decreased levels. In no case did new cranial nerve disease or further sellar expansion develop since operation, and two patients showed remodelling of the sella. Complications were temporary leakage of cerebrospinal fluid and diabetes insipidus in one patient and gonadotrophin deficiency in another.