Pituitary Apoplexy

Pituitary apoplexy occurs when a pituitary adenoma (tumor) bleeds suddenly or grows in a way that cuts off its own blood supply. This can cause sudden, severe symptoms and can even be fatal without prompt medical treatment.

Overview

Symptoms

Pituitary apoplexy puts pressure on the pituitary gland and nerves, including nerves in the eyes. It can cause hormone deficiencies, as well as a sudden onset of symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hormone insufficiencies
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Blindness or double vision

Diagnosis

First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam and to discuss your symptoms. Your doctor may then order imaging tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan. In addition, he or she will check your hormone levels, as well as your blood sugar and electrolyte levels.

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Treatment Options

Dr. Amin Kassam, vice president for Neurosciences at Aurora Health Care, explains the Expanded Endonasal Approach, a minimally invasive surgery technique.

Usually, surgery to remove the tumor can ease the pressure on the nerves and pituitary gland.

If you have pituitary apoplexy, your team of expert neurosurgeons may choose to perform the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA), which allows surgeons to access the pituitary gland through the nasal passages. Since there’s no incision required, you’ll recover faster and have a lower risk of complications than with traditional brain surgery.

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