BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPituitary apoplexyPituitary infarction; Pituitary tumor apoplexyPituitary apoplexy is a rare, but serious condition of the pituitary gland. Causes The pituitary is a small gland at the base of the brain. The pituitary produces many of the hormones that control essential body processes.Pituitary apoplexy can be caused by bleeding into the pituitary or by blocked blood flow to the pituitary. Apoplexy means bleeding into an organ or loss of blood flow to an organ.Pituitary apoplexy is commonly caused by bleeding inside a noncancerous (benign) tumor of the pituitary. These tumors are very common and are often not diagnosed. The pituitary is damaged when the tumor suddenly enlarges. It either bleeds into the pituitary or blocks blood supply to the pituitary. The larger the tumor, the higher the risk for future pituitary apoplexy.BenignBenign refers to a condition, tumor, or growth that is not cancerous. This means that it does not spread to other parts of the body. It does not in...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article When pituitary bleeding occurs in a woman during or right after childbirth, it is called Sheehan syndrome. This is a very rare condition.Sheehan syndromeSheehan syndrome is a condition that can occur in a woman who bleeds severely during childbirth. Sheehan syndrome is a type of hypopituitarism....ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Risk factors for pituitary apoplexy in non-pregnant people without a tumor include:Bleeding disorders Diabetes DiabetesDiabetes is a long-term (chronic) disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Head injury Radiation to the pituitary gland Use of a breathing machine Pituitary apoplexy in these situations is very rare. Symptoms Pituitary apoplexy usually has a short period of symptoms (acute), which can be life threatening. Symptoms often include:Severe headache (worst of your life) Paralysis of the eye muscles, causing double vision (ophthalmoplegia) or problems opening an eyelid OphthalmoplegiaSupranuclear ophthalmoplegia is a condition that affects the movement of the eyes.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Loss of peripheral vision or loss of all vision in one or both eyes Low blood pressure, nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting from acute adrenal insufficiency Acute adrenal insufficiencyAcute adrenal crisis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when there is not enough cortisol. This is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Personality changes due to sudden narrowing or spasm of one of the arteries in the brain (anterior cerebral artery) Less commonly, pituitary dysfunction may appear more slowly. In Sheehan syndrome, for example, the first symptom may be a failure to produce milk caused by a lack of the hormone prolactin after delivery.Over time, problems with other pituitary hormones may develop, causing symptoms of the following conditions:Growth hormone deficiency Growth hormone deficiencyGrowth hormone deficiency means the pituitary gland does not make enough growth hormone.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Adrenal insufficiency (if not already present or treated) Hypogonadism (body's sex glands produce little or no hormones) HypogonadismHypogonadism occurs when the body's sex glands produce little or no hormones. In men, these glands (gonads) are the testes. In women, these glands ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Hypothyroidism (thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone) HypothyroidismHypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. This condition is often called underactive thyroid....ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article In rare cases, when the posterior (back part) of the pituitary is involved, symptoms may include:Failure of the uterus to contract to give birth to a baby (in women) Failure to produce breast milk (in women) Frequent urination and severe thirst (diabetes insipidus) Exams and Tests The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.Tests that may be ordered include:Eye exams MRI or CT scanMRIA magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body. It does not us...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article CT scanA computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body. Related tests include:Abdomin...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Blood tests will be done to check levels of:ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) ACTHThe ACTH test measures the level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in the blood. ACTH is a hormone released from the pituitary gland in the brai...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Cortisol CortisolThe cortisol blood test measures the level of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a steroid (glucocorticoid or corticosteroid) hormone produced by th...Read Article Now Book Mark Article FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) FSHThe follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) blood test measures the level of FSH in blood. FSH is a hormone released by the pituitary gland, located on t...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Growth hormone Growth hormoneThe growth hormone test measures the amount of growth hormone in the blood. The pituitary gland makes growth hormone, which causes a child to grow. ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article LH (luteinizing hormone) Prolactin ProlactinProlactin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland. The prolactin test measures the amount of prolactin in the blood.Read Article Now Book Mark Article TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) Sodium Osmolarity in blood and urine Treatment Acute apoplexy may require surgery to relieve pressure on the pituitary and improve vision symptoms. Severe cases need emergency surgery. If vision is not affected, surgery is often not necessary.Immediate treatment with adrenal replacement hormones (glucocorticoids) may be needed. These hormones are often given through the vein (by IV). Other hormones may eventually be replaced, including:Growth hormone Sex hormones (estrogen/testosterone) Thyroid hormone Vasopressin (ADH) Outlook (Prognosis) Acute pituitary apoplexy can be life threatening. The outlook is good for people who have long-term (chronic) pituitary deficiency that is diagnosed and treated. Possible Complications Complications of untreated pituitary apoplexy can include:Adrenal crisis (condition that occurs when there is not enough cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands) Adrenal crisisAcute adrenal crisis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when there is not enough cortisol. This is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Adrenal glandsThe adrenal glands are two small triangle-shaped glands. One gland is located on top of each kidney.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Vision loss If other missing hormones are not replaced, symptoms of hypothyroidism and hypogonadism may develop, including infertility. When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider if you have any symptoms of chronic pituitary insufficiency.Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms of acute pituitary apoplexy, including:Eye muscle weakness or vision loss Sudden, severe headache Low blood pressure (which can cause fainting) Nausea Vomiting If you develop these symptoms and you have already been diagnosed with a pituitary tumor, seek medical help right away.Open ReferencesReferencesHannoush ZC, Weiss RE. Pituitary apoplexy. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al, eds. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth, MA: MDText.com. 2000-. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279125/. Updated April 22, 2018. Accessed July 1, 2021.Melmed S. Pituitary masses and tumors. In: Melmed S, Auchus, RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 9.AllVideoImagesTogEndocrine glands - illustration Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).Endocrine glandsillustrationEndocrine glands - illustration Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).Endocrine glandsillustrationRelated Information Hypothalamus(Special Topic)Sheehan syndrome(Condition)Diabetes(Condition)Diabetes - type 1(In-Depth) Review Date: 5/13/2021 Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Board Certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. 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