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Transcranial Surgery for Pituitary Tumors

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about transcranial surgery for pituitary tumors?

This surgery is used to remove a tumor on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is attached to the brain and sits behind the bridge of the nose.

How do I prepare for surgery?

  • Your surgeon will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home after surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • You may need x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, and blood tests.

What will happen during surgery?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision on your forehead or the side of your head. He or she will remove a piece of your skull to see your brain.
  • Your surgeon will remove the pituitary tumor. He or she will put the piece of skull back in place. The incisions on your scalp will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will then be placed over your incisions and around your head to control bleeding.

What should I expect after surgery?

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. The bandages used to cover your stitches keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandages soon after your surgery to check your incision wound.

  • You will be helped to walk around after surgery. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed.
  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain, a bacterial infection, or nausea. You may need medicine to control seizures or help decrease swelling in your brain. Certain hormones normally produced by the pituitary may need to be replaced with medicines.

What are the risks of transcranial surgery for pituitary tumors?

Problems may happen during this surgery that can lead to more brain surgeries. Your brain, eyes, bones, blood vessels, or nerves may get injured during surgery. You may bleed more than expected, get an infection, or have trouble breathing. Your hormone levels may change suddenly and cause serious problems. Your tumor may not be completely removed during surgery. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot.

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