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  • Author: Sunita M C De Sousa x
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Sunita M C De Sousa

The current treatment paradigm for prolactinomas involves dopamine agonist (DA) therapy as the first-line treatment, with surgical resection reserved for cases where there is DA failure due to resistance or intolerance. This review highlights how DA therapy can be optimised to overcome its increasingly recognised pitfalls, whilst also addressing the potential for expanding the use of surgery in the management of prolactinomas. The first part of the review discusses the limitations of DA therapy, namely: DA resistance; common DA side effects; and the rare but serious DA-induced risks of cardiac valvulopathy, impulse control disorders, psychosis, CSF rhinorrhoea and tumour fibrosis. The second part of the review explores the role of surgery in prolactinoma management with reference to its current second-line position and recent calls for surgery to be considered as an alternative first-line treatment alongside DA therapy. Randomised trials comparing medical vs surgical therapy for prolactinomas are currently underway. Pending these results, a low surgical threshold approach is herein proposed, whereby DA therapy remains the default treatment for prolactinomas unless there are specific triggers to consider surgery, including concern regarding DA side effects or risks in vulnerable patients, persistent and bothersome DA side effects, emergence of any serious risks of DA therapy, expected need for long-term DA therapy, as well as the traditional indications for surgery. This approach should optimise the use of DA therapy for those who will most benefit from it, whilst instituting surgery early in others in order to minimise the cumulative burden of prolonged DA therapy.

Open access

Annabelle G Hayes, Masoumeh G Shirazi, Anand Thiyagarajah, David J Torpy, and Sunita M C De Sousa


Cabergoline-associated valvulopathy (CAV) is defined by the echocardiographic triad of moderate or severe regurgitation, valvular thickening and restricted valvular motion. While it is a well-described complication of dopamine agonist therapy in Parkinson’s disease, only three convincing cases of CAV have previously been described in the treatment of prolactinoma, with none involving the tricuspid valve. We describe a case of CAV affecting the tricuspid valve, ultimately resulting in the patient’s death. The novel finding of CAV affecting the tricuspid valve suggests a possible link between confirmed cases of CAV and the echocardiographic surveillance studies of cabergoline-treated prolactinoma patients which have mostly demonstrated subclinical tricuspid valve changes. The risk of CAV, although small, prompts a mindful prescription of dopamine agonist therapy for prolactinomas and consideration of measures to minimise cabergoline exposure. The cumulative cabergoline doses and duration of therapy associated with CAV in published cases exceed what has been evaluated in case series and surveillance studies, underscoring the importance of case reports in understanding CAV.