The evaluation and management of patients with residual Cushing’s disease is one of the more complex issues facing neurosurgeons and neuroendocrinologists in clinical practice. There is considerable controversy over several relevant issues such as the timing of the assessment of whether a patient is in remission, what biochemical parameters define remission, the most appropriate course of action to take after residual disease has been defined, etc. As a consequence of the controversies, treating physicians develop notions and fall into certain practice patterns based on evidence of varying levels, their anecdotal experiences, and information gleaned from scientific meetings. This practice pattern, we believe, constitutes the “art of medicine.” We conducted a PubMed literature search to identify manuscripts containing data relevant to Cushing’s disease, outcomes of various therapeutic modalities, and recurrences. Reference lists were used to identify additional relevant manuscripts. We focused our review on manuscripts that included reasonably large series of patients, those reflecting the experience of pituitary centers and physicians recognized as experts in the field, and those papers felt to represent seminal contributions to the literature. Furthermore, trends in the evaluation and management of relevant patients have been incorporated by the senior author who has seen and evaluated over 750 patients with documented Cushing’s syndrome over the past 18 years in clinical practice. An analysis of current evidence indicated that, despite advances in neurosurgical techniques and recent developments in adjuvant therapies, patients with residual Cushing’s disease present significant management challenges to treating physicians. In this era, however, it is indeed possible to gain control of the hypercortisolism in most patients. Despite the wide variability in research methodology designed to collect relevant data, a step-wise approach to the management of these patients can be achieved. A logical step-wise approach to the evaluation of postoperative patients with Cushing’s disease is essential. Patients with residual disease require the development of an individualized plan of management that takes into account numerous factors pertaining to status of disease, the experience of treating physicians, and available therapeutic modalities.
Keywords: Cushing’s disease, Transsphenoidal, Pituitary, Radiotherapy