Purpose: Pituitary surgery can lead to post-surgical adrenal insufficiency with the need for glucocorticoid replacement and significant disease related burden. In patients who do not receive hydrocortisone replacement before surgery, at our center, an early morning plasma cortisol concentration using a cut-off value of 450 nmol/L 3 days after surgery (POD3) is used to guide the need for hydrocortisone replacement until dynamic confirmatory testing using metyrapone. The aim of this study was to critically assess the currently used diagnostic and treatment algorithm in patients undergoing pituitary surgery in our pituitary reference center. Methods: Retrospective analysis of all patients with a POD3 plasma cortisol concentration < 450 nmol/L who received hydrocortisone replacement and a metyrapone test after 3 months. Plasma cortisol concentration was measured using an electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (Roche). All patients who underwent postoperative testing using metyrapone at Amsterdam UMC between January 2018 and February 2022 were included. Patients with Cushing’s disease or those with hydrocortisone replacement prior to surgery were excluded. Results: Ninety-five patients were included in the analysis. The postoperative cortisol concentration above which no patient had adrenal insufficiency (i.e. 11-deoxycortisol > 200 nmol/L) was 357 nmol/L (Sensitivity 100%, Specificity 31%, PPV:32%, NPV:100%). This translates into a 28% reduction in the need for hydrocortisone replacement compared with the presently used cortisol cut-off value of 450 nmol/L. Conclusion: Early morning plasma cortisol cut-off values lower than 450 nmol/L can safely be used to guide the need for hydrocortisone replacement after pituitary surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Early online date2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Cortisol
  • Hydrocortisone replacement
  • Metyrapon
  • Transsphenoidal surgery

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