What is Pituitary Adenoma & How is it Treated?
What is Pituitary Adenoma?
Pituitary Adenoma is benign noncancerous growth that arises from the pituitary gland. This is perhaps one of the most common forms of brain tumors. Pituitary Adenoma is usually very slow growing tumor and causes no harm to the body and does not impair any functions of the brain.
However, there are certain forms of Pituitary Adenoma that tend to progress and cause certain neurological symptoms. Some form of Pituitary Adenoma start to secrete excessive hormones that are required for some important functions of the body while there are other forms of Pituitary Adenoma that secrete very less hormones.
Pituitary Adenoma either can develop within the pituitary gland or in the surrounding areas of the gland. It is very rare for Pituitary Adenoma to spread to other parts of the body. Persistent headaches are the most common symptom of Pituitary Adenoma.
The mainstay of treatment of Pituitary Adenoma is surgical removal and managing the levels of the hormone that the tumor secretes by way of medications. In some cases a neurosurgeon may prefer to utilize a wait and watch approach for certain cases of Pituitary Adenoma.
What are the Causes of Pituitary Adenoma?
The root cause of Pituitary Adenoma is not known. Anatomically speaking, the pituitary gland is located in the base of the brain somewhere between the ears. Even though this gland is of a very small size it plays a vital role in functioning of various important organs of the body.
The pituitary gland influences and regulates blood pressure, reproduction, and growth of the body. Usually the functioning of the gland is not impaired by the presence of Pituitary Adenoma.
There are rare cases of Pituitary Adenoma running in the families but there has been no connection identified to state that hereditary factor plays a role in the development of Pituitary Adenoma.
What are the Symptoms of Pituitary Adenoma?
Pituitary Adenoma may result in the development of a variety of medical conditions like Cushing's syndrome, Acromegaly and Hyperthyroidism. Apart from this, Pituitary Adenoma can also cause a variety of symptoms to include:
- Persistent headaches
- Problems with vision
- Persistent dizziness
- Unexplained loss of hair or excessive hair growth
- Unexplained changes in weight
- Abnormalities in the menstrual periods in females
- Erectile dysfunction in males.
How is Pituitary Adenoma Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Pituitary Adenoma may be suspected based on the symptoms exhibited by the patient. If Pituitary Adenoma is suspected the physician may do a battery of tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests include blood tests, urinalysis, and tests to check the visual field.
Additionally, the physician may order advanced imaging studies to include CT and MRI scans of the brain which will clearly show the presence of lesion within the pituitary gland confirming the diagnosis of Pituitary Adenoma.
How is Pituitary Adenoma Treated?
Surgery is the frontline treatment for Pituitary Adenoma. There are various approaches towards surgical treatment for Pituitary Adenoma. The most preferred surgery is called the endonasal endoscopic surgery.
This form of surgery has the highest success rate for successful removal of the tumor due to the best visualization of the tumor through this approach. The inherent risks of bleeding, stroke, CSF leak are also quite less when compared to other surgical approaches towards treatment of Pituitary Adenoma.
Transcranial Surgery is yet another surgical approach of treating Pituitary Adenoma. This surgery is done by doing a craniotomy and reaching the pituitary gland from above and removing the tumor. This mode of treatment is used very rarely for treatment of Pituitary Adenoma.
Postsurgery medications will be required for regulation of hormones and normalize them. This is done by hormone replacement therapy. This is as a result of the failure of the pituitary gland to function normally both as a result of tumor as well as the surgery which is done to remove the Pituitary Adenoma.
The duration of the therapy depends on the recovery of the gland postsurgery and may be for a short term as well as long term. This therapy is done to normalize the low testosterone, low estrogen, growth hormone, low thyroid hormone levels as a result of Pituitary Adenoma.