PD Dr. Serra’s illustration of the “Chopsticks” technique for endoscopic pituitary surgery makes it to the cover of “Neurosurgical Focus”

Pituitary tumors, also called adenomas of the pituitary gland, are benign brain tumors that can often be cured by careful minimally invasive surgery. The preferred surgical approach today is transsphenoidal, i.e. surgery is performed through the nose, the paranasal sinuses and up to the base of the skull with the pituitary gland above. Technical nuances are regularly debated among specialists in order to operate ever more gently.
With the aim of constantly improving patient treatment, the Department of Neurosurgery has now made the front page of the internationally renowned journal “Neurosurgical Focus” with a study on minimally invasive surgery of pituitary tumours.

The surgical technique co-developed by the department, the so-called “Chopstick Technique” allows an experienced surgeon to remove the adenoma endoscopically and minimally invasively. “We also call this technique 3-2-1, which stands for 3 instruments, 2 hands and 1 single nostril. The surgeon carries 3 instruments in his hands, similar to chopsticks,” explains Dr. C. Serra, Senior Physician at the department of neurosurgery at the USZ. In a first case study of 144 patients at the USZ, the technique showed excellent resection results with optimal protection of the nasal mucosa and the sensitive surrounding structures (pituitary gland, optic nerves, carotid artery)

The Department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital Zurich is known throughout Switzerland for the treatment of pituitary adenomas. “Through regular publications in international journals, the USZ is also a pioneer outside Switzerland in the field of endoscopic minimally invasive pituitary surgery,” says Professor L. Regli, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, “And of course, the optimal and modern treatment of patients with pituitary tumors requires a well-coordinated team of endocrinologists, ENT specialists and neurosurgeons.

Source: Serra C, Staartjes VE, Maldaner N, Regli L et al. Assessing the surgical outcome of the “chopsticks” technique in endoscopic transsphenoidal adenoma surgery. Neurosurg Focus. 2020;48(6):E15. doi:10.3171/2020.3.FOCUS2065

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