Pituitary Gland Failure (Pituitary Apoplexy)

Overview

Pituitary gland failure or apoplexy is the sudden failure of the pituitary gland. This can happen because of severe bleeding or a loss of oxygen to the tissues of the pituitary gland causing tissue death. These events can happen either within the pituitary gland itself or within tumor inside the pituitary gland.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms include sudden severe headache with nausea and vomiting, double vision or loss of vision, change in mental status, loss of eye muscle control, and meningismus (symptoms associated with irritation of the brain and spinal cord). Other symptoms can include fever, pituitary failure, loss of consciousness, hypothalamic failure and death.


Causes and Risk Factors

Pituitary apoplexy tends to occur most often in large tumors, macroadenomas. Pituitary apoplexy sometimes occurs as a result of bleeding into a normal pituitary gland; this most often happens in patients who have diabetes mellitus.

Treatment

It is usually treated by surgery soon after the symptoms occur.

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