Pituitary Adenomas


  • A pituitary adenoma is a tumor (lump) in your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is an almond-shaped organ in your brain that makes and secretes (releases) hormones. Hormones are special chemicals that flow through your blood to control functions of your organs and tissues. The tumor can cause your pituitary gland to make too much hormone such as prolactin, or growth hormone. A pituitary adenoma may change your body functions by secreting too much hormone or by damaging nearby tissues. Increased amounts of hormones in your body can also change your appearance and mood. You may have an increased risk for medical problems and trouble having babies or getting your partner pregnant. If your tumor grows very big, you may have headaches and problems seeing.

  • Blood and urine tests, a computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done to diagnose your tumor. You may need to have your tumor removed through surgery. Hormones or medicines may be given to make your hormone levels normal. Radiation therapy may also be used with or without surgery. Having your pituitary adenoma treated early may prevent more damage to your brain tissue and relieve your symptoms.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • Medicines used to treat pituitary adenomas may cause an allergic response. Medicines may also cause headaches, blurry vision, leg cramps, and stomach problems. Some medicines may cause changes in your mood such as suddenly being sad or angry for no reason. With surgery, you may bleed, get an infection, or have damage to your brain, nerves, and blood vessels. After surgery, you may have headaches, or lose feeling in some parts of your body. Radiation therapy may cause harm to tissues near the tumor. You may have problems with thinking, and remembering things. Your pituitary gland may decrease or completely stop making some hormones after your treatments.

  • If you do not have treatment for your pituitary adenoma, it may grow and damage nearby brain tissue. You may have more headaches and problems with seeing. You may also have worsening problems thinking and remembering things. You may have an increased risk for having weak bones, diabetes, and heart problems. Men may have problems getting an erection or getting their partner pregnant. Females may have problems with their monthly period, and have difficulty getting pregnant. Your tumor may break open and bleed which may cause you to pass out, or die. Talk to your caregiver if you have questions about your condition, treatment, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.


Certain medicines may be used to decrease the amount of hormone your tumor is making. Medicines such as antithyroid medicines and dopamine agonists can decrease the amount of certain hormones in your body. Having the right amount of each hormone in your body may help it work better.


  • 24 hour urine test: All of the urine that you pass for one day is collected. Every time you urinate, you put the urine into a jug. The urine is put into a larger container that is kept cold. If you urinate during the night, save this urine also. At the end of 24 hours the urine is sent to a lab to be tested. Your caregiver will be checking your urine for increased amounts of hormone.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken for tests. These can tell your caregivers how much of each hormone you have in your body. Blood tests may also give your caregivers information about your health. The blood can be taken from a blood vessel in your hand, arm, or the bend in your elbow. You may need to have blood drawn more than once.

  • Computed tomography scan: This is also called a CT scan. A special x-ray machine with a computer takes pictures of your brain. It can show your brain tissue, blood vessels, and pituitary adenoma.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This is also called an MRI. The MRI shows pictures of the inside of your head. This can show your caregiver any tumors or problems inside. You will need to lay still and relax during a MRI. Never enter the MRI room with an oxygen tank, watch, or any other metal objects. This can cause serious injury.

Treatment options:

  • Radiation therapy or radiosurgery: These treatments use x-rays or gamma rays to treat the tumor. Radiation may help decrease pain, stop tumor cells from growing, and shrink the tumor. Ask your caregiver for more information about radiation therapy and radiosurgery

  • Surgery: This is done to remove or decrease the size of your tumor. Ask your caregiver for more information on surgeries to treat your pituitary adenoma.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pituitary Adenomas (Inpatient Care)