The annual incidence of pituitary tumours varies from 2 to 7 cases for every 100,000 people per year. They represent between 10-15% of all intracranial tumours. They are most frequent in women, and appear between the ages of thirty and sixty.

The majority of pituitary tumours are usually benign and have a low growth rate. We generally find the small tumours confined to the sella turcica, although it is not unusual to find the small and medium sized tumours filtering into the cavernous sinus. On the other hand there is the invasive tumour, which follows a more aggressive course.  It tends to grow quickly and invade places like the carotid arteries or optic nerves.

Symptoms


  • Loss of vision

  • Low libido

  • Impotence

  • Acromegaly

  • Cushing's Disease

Diagnosis

Cranial Magnetic Resonance

The MRI is a diagnostic test, which allows the detection of pituitary tumours, in a non-invasive way.

Hormonal study

Hormonal studies (cortisol, testosterone FSH, IGF-1, LH, prolactin serum and the thyroid hormone) are done to analyse the endocrine function and detect any possible abnormalities caused by the presence of a pituitary tumour.

Treatment

Despite the fact that the first line treatment in pituitary tumours is surgery (with the exception of prolactinomas), for the latter surgery is reserved for cases where there is no response to medical treatment, tumours with visual deficit or patients who do not tolerate the side effects of this treatment.

 Results in pituitary surgery are directly related to the neurosurgeon´s  training and experience working in this field. It is generally thought that for a neurosurgeon to have experience in pituitary glands they must have completed at least 100 surgical pituitary operations and also perform a minimum of 25 operations a year .

The Neurosurgery team in the Grupo Hospital Clinic de Barcelona is a pioneer in the use of endoscopic techniques for the treatment of pituitary gland tumours, having performed more than 300 minimally invasive surgical treatments. The benefits of this technique, in comparison to the classical technique, has a direct impact on the patient with a significant reduction in local complications, a decline in surgical time, an increase in the patient's comfort (lack of postoperative nasal packing and a reduction in postoperative pain) and a lower average time in hospital after the operation, which can be only 24 - 48 hours in centres with such vast experience as ours.


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