Objectives. After resection of hypothalamic/pituitary tumors, children are at risk for development of hormonal deficiencies, obesity, and hypersomnolence. However, the prevalence and pathophysiology of these complications are unclear. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence and severity of hypersomnolence in children after resection of pituitary tumors and to study the potential factors that contribute to this sleepiness if present. We further hypothesized that decrements in orexin levels may contribute to the sleepiness.
Methods. Six children who underwent hypothalamic/pituitary surgery were identified. Five of these patients and 5 matched control subjects underwent overnight polysomnography followed by a multiple sleep latency test. Children who had a primary sleep disorder (eg, obstructive sleep apnea) underwent treatment and were restudied subsequently (n = 2). Blood levels of pituitary hormones were measured. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were drawn from 4 patients and 3 control subjects to measure orexin levels.
Results. Endocrine control was appropriate in all children. Although patients had longer sleep duration but similar sleep efficiency than control subjects, relatively severe daytime somnolence was present (mean sleep latency: 10.3 ± 5.3 minutes vs 26.2 ± 1.1 minute in control subjects). Sleepiness did not correlate with body mass index or age. Furthermore, serum and CSF orexin levels did not differ between patients and control subjects.
Conclusions. Severe daytime sleepiness is frequent among children who undergo pituitary/hypothalamic surgery and does not seem to result from inappropriate cortisol or thyroxine replacement, disturbed nocturnal sleep, or low levels of orexin in the serum or CSF. We therefore speculate that other, unidentified neurohormonal mechanisms may mediate the excessive sleepiness of these patients.