Diagnosis and Treatment of Pituitary Adenomas

A Review
JAMA. 2017;317(5):516-524. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19699

Importance  Pituitary adenomas may hypersecrete hormones or cause mass effects. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are important.

Observations  Prevalence of pituitary adenomas ranges from 1 in 865 adults to 1 in 2688 adults. Approximately 50% are microadenomas (<10 mm); the remainder are macroadenomas (≥10 mm).

Mass effects cause headache, hypopituitarism, and visual field defects. Treatments include transsphenoidal surgery, medical therapies, and radiotherapy. Prolactinomas account for 32% to 66% of adenomas and present with amenorrhea, loss of libido, galactorrhea, and infertility in women and loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and infertility in men; they are generally treated with the dopamine agonists cabergoline and bromocriptine.

Growth hormone–secreting tumors account for 8% to 16% of tumors and usually present with enlargement of the lips, tongue, nose, hands, and feet and are diagnosed by elevated insulin-like growth factor 1 levels and growth hormone levels; initial treatment is surgical. Medical therapy with somatostatin analogues, cabergoline, and pegvisomant is often also needed.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–secreting tumors account for 2% to 6% of adenomas and are associated with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other morbidity. Measurement of a late-night salivary cortisol level is the best screening test but petrosal sinus sampling for ACTH may be necessary to distinguish a pituitary from an ectopic source.

The primary treatment of Cushing disease (hypercortisolism due to ACTH-producing adenomas, which is the cause in approximately 65% of the cases of hypercortisolism) is adenoma resection and medical therapies including ketoconazole, mifepristone, and pasireotide.

Hyperthyroidism due to thyroid-stimulating hormone–secreting tumors accounts for 1% of tumors and is treated with surgery and somatostatin analogues if not surgically cured. Clinically nonfunctioning adenomas account for 15% to 54% of adenomas and present with mass effects; surgery is generally required, although incidentally found tumors can be followed if they are asymptomatic.

Conclusions and Relevance  Patients with pituitary adenomas should be identified at an early stage so that effective treatment can be implemented. For prolactinomas, initial therapy is generally dopamine agonists. For all other pituitary adenomas, initial therapy is generally transsphenoidal surgery with medical therapy being reserved for those not cured by surgery.

Read the full text here: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2600472

Pituitary Issues: Irregular Periods

Q: I am 28 years old and I have not yet started my periods naturally. I have to take medicine for periods — Novelon. The doctors say that there is some problem with my hormones in the pituitary gland. Please advise me how to get normal and natural periods, because after taking the medicine I get my period, but without medicines I don’t.

A by Dr Sharmaine Mitchell: The problem you have with your menstrual period being irregular is most likely due to overproduction of the hormone prolactin by the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland can sometimes enlarge and cause an overproduction of prolactin and this can result in inappropriate milk production in the breasts (white nipple discharge), irregular menstruation or absent menstrual periods, headaches and blurred vision. The blurred vision occurs as a result of compression of the optic nerve which supplies the eyes, by the enlarged brain tumour in the pituitary gland.

You should get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scan of the brain and pituitary gland done. You should also test your prolactin levels to determine the extent of overproduction of the hormone.

Other investigations should include a thyroid function test (TSH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and leutinizing hormone (LH), and baseline testosterone level tests.

Abnormalities in the production of thyroid hormones can also cause menstrual irregularities and this should be ruled out.

Polycystic ovarian disease can also cause irregular menstrual periods and checking the level of FSH, LH and testosterone will help to rule out this diagnosis. This condition is usually associated with excessive weight gain, abnormal male pattern distribution on the face, chest and abdomen and an increased risk for diabetes mellitus. A pelvic ultrasound to look at the structure of the ovaries and to rule out polycystic ovaries is essential.

If the pituitary gland is enlarged, then medication can be prescribed to shrink it. Bromocriptine or Norprolac are commonly used drugs which work well in reducing the prolactin levels and establishing regular menstrual cycles. The use of these drugs will also help to establish ovulation and improve your fertility.

In some cases it may become necessary to have surgery done if the tumour in the pituitary gland is large and does not respond to the usual medications prescribed to shrink the pituitary gland. The MRI of the brain and pituitary gland will give an idea as to the size of the gland and help to determine if there is a need for you to see the neurosurgeon.

In most cases medical management with drugs will work well and there is no need for surgical intervention. This is a problem that can recur, so it may be necessary to take treatment intermittently for a long period of time, especially if fertility is desired.

Consult your doctor who will advise you further. Best wishes.

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.

From http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/allwoman/Still-no-normal-period-at-28_87596

UAE Patient’s (Pituitary) Brain Tumour Removed Through Nostrils

Dubai: A 34-year-old patient working as a crane operator has undergone a remarkable new procedure of surgery at Thumbay Hospital, Dubai, that facilitated the removal of a brain tumour through the nostrils.

The patient, Mehnaj Khan, a Pakistani crane operator, underwent endoscopic trans-nasal trans-sphenoidal surgery in September, where the tumour was removed through the nose by endoscopic surgery without any cut or stitches on the skin. The father of five children has now made a full recovery, with improved vision, a hospital spokesperson said.

Khan first noticed something was wrong when his eyesight began to diminish, first the right eye, followed by the left eye. Although he had ignored his frequent bouts of headache for two years, Khan was compelled to visit an ophthalmologist due to vision deterioration. When an eye check-up revealed nothing was wrong, he was referred to to Thumbay Hospital, where an MRI scan of the brain revealed that he had a large tumour in the pituitary gland, pressing on the optic apparatus of brain and also hypothalamus, a very vital part of brain. This tumour was pressing on his optic nerves, causing him to slowly lose his sight.

Dr. Ishwar Chandra Premsagar, consultant neurosurgeon at Thumbay Hospital who operated on Khan, said: “Conventionally, such operations require surgeons to open the skull — a procedure known as a craniotomy. Alternatively, affected portions of the brain are reached via major incisions in the side of the face or inside the mouth, leaving behind major scars of the surgery. However, the patient’s tumour was removed by suctioning it out through his nose.”

An ear nose and throat (ENT) surgeon and an eye surgeon were consulted to plan the surgery and save further deterioration of vision while providing a chance for complete recovery.

Khan, who was nearly blind in one eye with the tumour growth, expressed his gratitude to the hospital and the teams of surgeons as he noticed improvement in his vision after the surgery. By the end of the week, he could read too. The patient was very thankful to the team of surgeons.

Dr Premsagar added: “The endoscope provides a close-up view of the pituitary, allowing the surgeon to remove the entire tumour out in one go through the nostrils, causing no disfigurement or damage to the brain. On the other hand, the procedure ensures far less danger of brain damage or stroke, and the patient usually makes a quicker recovery. Although post-surgery, deterioration of vision stops, but one cannot guarantee complete recovery of vision. This patient was lucky as his vision improved, but it may not happen in all patients. Hence, it is extremely important that one should ensure early consultation, diagnosis and surgery to ensure high chances of recovery.”

From http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/health/uae-patient-s-brain-tumour-removed-through-nostrils-1.1933841

All About the Pituitary Gland

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The pituitary gland stimulates all the other endocrine glands to produce their own hormones. It produces a number of hormones including Human Growth Hormone (hGH) responsible for bone and muscle growth and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which stimulates the production of the female egg or male sperm.  It is found at the base of the brain.
What can happen when it goes wrong?

When the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough ‘trigger’ hormones, hypopituitarism occurs. Most often, it is caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland although it can also be caused by infections, head injury or even stroke.

Symptoms?
Excessive tiredness, reduced fertility, irregular periods, weight gain, poor libido, dry skin and headaches.
Treatment?
If caused by a tumor, surgery will be required to remove it. Regardless of whether this is successful, daily hormones will then be required to replace those no longer produced.

Adapted from http://www.hippocraticpost.com/palliative/whole-story-hormones/

Primary hyperaldosteronism: a case of unilateral adrenal hyperplasia with contralateral incidentaloma

BMJ Case Reports 2016; doi:10.1136/bcr-2016-216209
  • CASE REPORT
  1. Sujit Vakkalanka1,
  2. Andrew Zhao1,
  3. Mohammed Samannodi2

+Author Affiliations


  1. 1University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

  2. 2Department of Medicine, Buffalo, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence toDr Mohammed Samannodi, samannodi@gmail.com
  • Accepted 28 June 2016
  • Published 14 July 2016

Summary

Primary hyperaldosteronism is one of the most common causes of secondary hypertension but clear differentiation between its various subtypes can be a clinical challenge.

We report the case of a 37-year-old African-American woman with refractory hypertension who was admitted to our hospital for palpitations, shortness of breath and headache. Her laboratory results showed hypokalaemia and an elevated aldosterone/renin ratio. An abdominal CT scan showed a nodule in the left adrenal gland but adrenal venous sampling showed elevated aldosterone/renin ratio from the right adrenal vein. The patient began a new medical regimen but declined any surgical options.

We recommend clinicians to maintain a high level of suspicion to consider the less common subtypes of primary hyperaldosteronism, especially given the fact that the management greatly varies.

From http://casereports.bmj.com/content/2016/bcr-2016-216209.short?rss=1

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