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Papers of the Week

2021 Jan

Gland Surg



Surgical treatment of a 72-year-old patient with headache, hyponatremia and oculomotor nerve palsy: a case report and literature review.



Pituitary apoplexy is a life-threatening syndrome caused by acute infarction of the pituitary gland. The most common symptoms associated with pituitary apoplexy are headache, nausea, vomiting, visual symptoms, hypopituitarism, and altered mental status. Both oculomotor nerve palsy and hyponatremia are relatively rare complications of pituitary apoplexy. The treatment of pituitary apoplexy is controversial. We report a case of a 72-year-old man with severe headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and left oculomotor nerve palsy, who was initially considered as posterior communicating artery aneurysm (PCOAA) based on the presenting symptoms. Initial biochemical evaluation showed severe hyponatremia, hormonal evaluation identified multiple pituitary hormone deficiency and enhanced magnetic resonance imaging showed a large pituitary adenoma with signs of hemorrhage. A diagnosis of pituitary apoplexy and secondary hypopituitarism was finally made. The patient was treated with intravenous hydrocortisone 100 mg twice daily and oral levothyroxine 100 mg once daily. Appropriate venous transfusion with sodium was also used concomitantly to correct hyponatremia. After seven days of treatment, the patient's serum electrolytes normalized and he gradually recovered alertness. Then, the patient underwent transsphenoidal surgery for tumor removal. Left ptosis and oculomotor nerve palsy completely recovered three months after surgery. Postoperatively, hormone replacement therapy was essential for the patient with 20 mg hydrocortisone and 50 mg levothyroxine once daily. During the last follow up 4 years later, the patient was still on hormonal replacement and in good condition. So, for patients with pituitary apoplexy, we have shown that a semi-elective surgery after conservative treatment when the patient becomes clinically stable and hypopituitarism has been corrected is a good approach.