Pilot study to define criteria for Pituitary Tumors Centers of Excellence (PTCOE): results of an audit of leading international centers

A. Giustina*, M. M. Uygur, S. Frara, A. Barkan, N. R. Biermasz, P. Chanson, P. Freda, M. Gadelha, U. B. Kaiser, S. Lamberts, E. Laws, L. B. Nachtigall, V. Popovic, M. Reincke, C. Strasburger, A. J. van der Lely, J. A.H. Wass, S. Melmed, F. F. Casanueva

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Pituitary Society established the concept and mostly qualitative parameters for defining uniform criteria for Pituitary Tumor Centers of Excellence (PTCOEs) based on expert consensus. Aim of the study was to validate those previously proposed criteria through collection and evaluation of self-reported activity of several internationally-recognized tertiary pituitary centers, thereby transforming the qualitative 2017 definition into a validated quantitative one, which could serve as the basis for future objective PTCOE accreditation. 


An ad hoc prepared database was distributed to nine Pituitary Centers chosen by the Project Scientific Committee and comprising Centers of worldwide repute, which agreed to provide activity information derived from registries related to the years 2018–2020 and completing the database within 60 days. The database, provided by each center and composed of Excel® spreadsheets with requested specific information on leading and supporting teams, was reviewed by two blinded referees and all 9 candidate centers satisfied the overall PTCOE definition, according to referees’ evaluations. To obtain objective numerical criteria, median values for each activity/parameter were considered as the preferred PTCOE definition target, whereas the low limit of the range was selected as the acceptable target for each respective parameter. 


Three dedicated pituitary neurosurgeons are preferred, whereas one dedicated surgeon is acceptable. Moreover, 100 surgical procedures per center per year are preferred, while the results indicated that 50 surgeries per year are acceptable. Acute post-surgery complications, including mortality and readmission rates, should preferably be negligible or nonexistent, but acceptable criterion is a rate lower than 10% of patients with complications requiring readmission within 30 days after surgery. Four endocrinologists devoted to pituitary diseases are requested in a PTCOE and the total population of patients followed in a PTCOE should not be less than 850. It appears acceptable that at least one dedicated/expert in pituitary diseases is present in neuroradiology, pathology, and ophthalmology groups, whereas at least two expert radiation oncologists are needed. 


This is, to our knowledge, the first study to survey and evaluate the activity of a relevant number of high-volume centers in the pituitary field. This effort, internally validated by ad hoc reviewers, allowed for transformation of previously formulated theoretical criteria for the definition of a PTCOE to precise numerical definitions based on real-life evidence. The application of a derived synopsis of criteria could be used by independent bodies for accreditation of pituitary centers as PTCOEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-596
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Study partially supported by a Research Grant from Pfizer to Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.

Funding Information:
Scientific Evaluation Board: Andrea Giustina, Italy (PI), Felipe F. Casanueva, Spain (Co-PI), Shlomo Melmed, USA, Ariel Barkan, USA, John Wass, UK, Steven W. J. Lamberts, The Netherlands, Edward R. Laws, US, Monica Gadelha, Brazil, Vera Popovic-Brkic, Serbia, Pamela Freda, USA, Ursula Kaiser, USA, Philippe Chanson, France, Stefano Frara, Italy (Secretary), Melin M. Uygur, Turkey Participating Centers Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA (A.T. Tritos), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, USA, (V. Bonert), Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (S.J. Neggers and R.K. Balvers), Charité Universitaetsmedizin, Berlin, Germany (L. Haberbosch and V. Hubertus), Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands (A. Pereira, M. Verstegen, L. Bakker), Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (M. Gadelha), LMU University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany (K. Schilbach and J. J. Thorsteinsdottir), Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA (L. Min and T. Smith), IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy (M. Doga, P. Loli, P. Mortini).

Funding Information:
A. Giustina is Consultant for Ipsen, Pfizer, Recordati and Takeda and received Research Grants to Institutions from Abiogen, Pfizer and Takeda. M.M. Uygur received a Grant from Pfizer. S. Frara received consultancy and speaker fees from Ipsen, Pfizer, Novartis and Recordati. A.J. van der Lely received consultancy and/or speakers’ fees from Amoly Pharma SA, Dexel, Cambian, Crinetics, Ipsen and Pfizer. S. Melmed is a Consultant for Ionis, Ipsen and NovoNordisk and receives a Research Grant from Recordati. A. Barkan, F.F. Casanueva, P. Chanson, P. Freda, M. Gadelha, S. Lamberts, U.B. Kaiser, L.B. Nachtigall, V. Popovic, M. Reincke, C. Strasburger, J.A.H. Wass have no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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