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Papers of the Week

2020 May-Jun

Neurol India



Pituitary Apoplexy: A Comprehensive Review.


Muthukumar N
Neurol India. 2020 May-Jun; 68(Supplement):S72-S78.
PMID: 32611895.


Pituitary apoplexy (PA) is a rare, usually vision-threatening and occasionally life-threatening entity. The exact incidence of PA in large series of pituitary adenomas is variable; however, it is more common in macroadenomas and nonfunctioning adenomas though it has been reported rarely in microadenomas. There are several well-known precipitating factors for PA including the use of anticoagulants, surgery, head trauma, pregnancy, etc. The typical clinical presentation is characterized by the near universal presence of headache with or without the following: visual disturbances, extraocular palsies, altered sensorium. MRI is the imaging modality of choice. Most patients have hormonal and/or electrolyte disturbances at the time of presentation which needs to be quickly corrected. Both conservative and surgical treatment modalities have been advised for the management of this condition. However, on the basis of the evidence available in the literature, the treatment should be individualized for each patient with PA. If conservative management is chosen, close clinical monitoring is necessary for early identification of deterioration. Surgery generally is through the trans-sphenoidal route. Most patients have a good recovery in visual function and extraocular palsy. There is some evidence in the literature that surgical intervention, when necessary, should be undertaken early as it is associated with better visual outcome. The majority of the patients will have residual hormonal deficits which will require prolonged hormone replacement therapy. There is a small but significant risk of recurrent PA in patients with residual tumors, especially, in those with large tumor residues. There is also a small risk of tumor recurrence following PA and hence all patients should undergo surveillance imaging periodically to detect the possible recurrence of tumor. In recent years, the mortality from PA has decreased significantly. A high index of suspicion and prompt multidisciplinary management will often lead to an overall good outcome.