Management and outcomes of pituitary apoplexy

Tarun D. Singh, Navid Valizadeh, Fredric B. Meyer, John L.D. Atkinson, Dana Erickson, Alejandro A. Rabinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


OBJECT: This study was undertaken to analyze the predisposing factors, clinical presentation, therapeutic management, and clinical recovery in patients with pituitary apoplexy, with an emphasis on the long-term visual, endocrine, and functional outcomes. METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective analysis of consecutive cases involving patients treated at Mayo Clinic between 1992 and 2013. Patients were included in the study only if they had 1) abrupt onset of severe headache or visual disturbance in the presence of a pituitary adenoma and 2) radiological or surgical confirmation of a pituitary mass. The primary endpoints of analysis were the visual (ocular motility, visual fields, and visual acuity), endocrine, and functional outcomes (using the modified Rankin Scale). RESULTS: Eighty-seven patients were identified (57 males and 30 females, mean age 50.9 years, range 15-91 years). Twenty-two patients (25.3%) had a known pituitary adenoma. Hypertension was the most common associated factor (39%). Headache was the most frequent presenting symptom (89.7%), followed by visual abnormalities (47.1%). Cranial nerve palsies were present in 39% and visual field defects in 34.1%. MRI detected hemorrhage in 89% patients, as compared with 42% detected by CT scan. Sixty-one patients (70.1%) underwent surgery during acute hospitalization (median time from apoplexy 5 days, IQR 3-10 days), 8 (9.2%) had delayed surgery, and 18 (20.7%) were treated conservatively. Histopathological examination revealed adenoma with pure necrosis in 18 (30%), pure hemorrhage in 4 (6.7%), and both in 6 (10%) patients. Four patients died during hospitalization. The average duration of follow-up was 44.2 ± 43.8 months. All survivors were independent and had complete resolution or substantial improvement in eye movements and visual fields at the last follow-up. Many patients needed long-term hormonal replacement with levothyroxine (62.7%) and cortisol (60%). Daily desmopressin was needed in 23% of all surgical patients at 3 months (versus none of the medically treated) and this requirement decreased slightly over time. Regrowth of pituitary adenoma was seen in 7 patients (8.6%). There were no statistically significant differences in any of the outcome measures across the treatment groups. CONCLUSIONS: The outcome of most patients with pituitary apoplexy is excellent. Selected patients can be managed conservatively, and patients with severe neuro-ophthalmological deficits treated with early surgery can achieve an excellent recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1450-1457
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2015


  • Endocrine
  • Outcomes
  • Pituitary apoplexy
  • Pituitary surgery
  • Visual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Management and outcomes of pituitary apoplexy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this