Pituitary adenomas/tumors are tumors that occur in the pituitary gland, and account for about 10% of intracranial neoplasms. They often remain undiagnosed, and small pituitary tumors are found in 6 to 24 percent of adults at autopsy.
The diagnosis is generally entertained either on
the basis of visual difficulties arising from the
compression of the optic nerve by the tumor, or on
the basis of manifestations of excess hormone secretion:
the specifics depend on the type of hormone. The specific
area of the visual pathway at which compression by
these tumours occurs is at the optic chiasma.
Tumors which cause visual difficulty are likely to be macroadenomata greater than 10 mm in diameter; tumors less than 10 mm are microadenomata.
Some tumors secrete more than one hormone, the most common combination being GH and prolactin.
Prolactinomas are frequently diagnosed during pregnancy, when the hormone progesterone increases the tumor's growth rate. Headaches may be present. The diagnosis is confirmed by testing hormone levels, and by radiographic imaging of the pituitary (for example, by CT scan or MRI).
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