Is Pituitary Tumor Surgery Dangerous?

What Is A Pituitary Tumor And What Is The Surgery Done To Remove It?

Pituitary Tumor is an abnormal growth that is seen within the pituitary gland. In majority of the cases these tumors are benign. There are some pituitary tumors which make the pituitary gland secrete abnormally high levels of hormones, which may result in hormonal imbalance while there are some tumors, which cause the gland to secrete lower levels of hormones.

There are various ways to treat this condition with surgical removal being the most preferred route to treat pituitary tumors. In some cases, the physician may recommended observation of the pituitary tumor with serial imaging every six months or so to see whether the tumor increases in size or not.

Most of patients with pituitary tumor desire surgical removal with medications to manage the hormone levels. The surgery done for removal of the pituitary tumor is called as transsphenoidal surgery. The surgery is done through the sphenoid sinus, which covers the back part of the pituitary gland.

The surgeon makes a small nick along the nasal septum. The wall of the sphenoid sinus is opened and the surgeon reaches the pituitary gland. The surgeon then identifies the location of the tumor and removes it using specialized instruments and microscope used for identification of the tumor.

Before embarking on for surgery for removal of the pituitary tumor, the one question that patients usually ask is whether the surgery is dangerous.

Is Pituitary Tumor Surgery Dangerous?

Is Pituitary Tumor Surgery Dangerous?

A pituitary tumor surgery is a complex operation and therefore, there is some increase in the risk associated with it. The surgeons ensure that they do not injure any surrounding structures or nerves at the time of surgery and prevent any postoperative complications.

Some of the complications of a pituitary tumor surgery include excessive bleeding, infection, anesthetic complications, injury to neurovascular structures albeit such complications are rare.

Most individuals post pituitary tumor removal will have a sinus headache for a period of about two weeks, after which the headache will automatically resolve.

In case of damage to the arteries, brain tissue, nerves near the pituitary gland during the time of pituitary tumor surgery may lead to complications like permanent brain damage, blindness, or stroke but even these complications are rare.

In case during the surgery there is some damage to the meninges, it can lead to CSF leak. Diabetes insipidus is something that normally happens after a pituitary tumor removal surgery, but this condition resolves on its own after a few weeks postsurgery.

It usually takes about two to three weeks for the patient to carry out some of the activities of daily living and it may take up to three to four months before an individual can get back to all normal household and work activities after pituitary tumor removal surgery.

In conclusion, a pituitary tumor surgery is a complex surgery where the surgeon has to ensure that no damage is done to the nearby structures to prevent complications, but it is in no way considered as a dangerous operation.

There have been no cases where mortality of a patient has been affected due to this surgery and extremely few cases of complications after pituitary tumor surgery.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 6, 2018

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