pituitary microadenoma is a noncancerous growth in the pituitary gland that is
less than 10 mm in size. Symptoms of the condition may include such things as
headaches, vomiting, vision problems and dizziness. Treatment options can include
surgery, drug therapy, and radiation therapy.
What Is a Pituitary Microadenoma?
A pituitary microadenoma is a benign (non-cancerous) growth in the
pituitary gland that is smaller than 10 millimeters in size. A pituitary
microadenoma differs from a pituitary macroadenoma, which is 10 millimeters or larger. Most pituitary tumors are microadenomas.
The pituitary gland, which is sometimes called the master gland, plays
an important role in regulating growth and development, metabolism, and
reproduction. The pituitary gland produces a number of key hormones, including:
- Prolactin, which
stimulates the breasts to produce milk during pregnancy. After delivery of
the baby, a mother's prolactin levels fall unless she breastfeeds her
infant. Each time the baby nurses, prolactin levels rise to maintain milk
- Thyrotropin, which
signals the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone.
- Growth hormone,
which regulates growth.
(adrenocorticotropin), which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce
- Luteinizing hormone
and follicle-stimulating hormone, which regulate ovulation and estrogen
and progesterone production in women, and sperm formation and testosterone
production in men.
Types of Pituitary Microadenomas
There are several types of pituitary microadenomas, classified based on
whether they produce hormones or not. A pituitary microadenoma that makes one
or more of the pituitary hormones is called a functioning pituitary microadenoma.
A pituitary microadenoma that does not make hormones is called a nonfunctioning
Each type of functioning pituitary microadenoma causes different
symptoms, depending on the type of hormone that is being produced. Examples of
functioning pituitary microadenomas include:
Symptoms of a Pituitary
Symptoms of a pituitary microadenoma can range from simple, common
complaints, such as tiredness or restlessness, to more serious symptoms, such
vomiting, or dizziness.
Pituitary microadenoma symptoms vary, depending on the size and location
of the microadenoma. Pituitary microadenoma symptoms also vary based on the
hormones being produced.
How Is a Diagnosis Made?
When making a pituitary microadenoma diagnosis, the doctor will normally
ask about a person's medical history, including questions about his or her
current symptoms, whether there is a family history of any medical problems,
and any medicines the patient is taking. The doctor will also usually perform a
physical exam, looking for any signs of a pituitary microadenoma, and order
These tests can include:
- Blood tests to
measure hormone levels
- Magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) scans
- Computed tomography
- Petrosal sinus
- Eye exams.
Treating Pituitary Microadenomas
Different types of pituitary microadenoma treatment options are
available for people. Pituitary microadenoma treatment options vary based on:
- The type of
- The symptoms of its
- How far the
microadenoma has spread into the brain
- The patient's age
and overall health.
In general, treatments for a pituitary microadenoma can include:
- Drug therapy
- Surgery (removing
the microadenoma in an operation)
- Radiation therapy
(using high-dose x-rays to kill microadenoma cells).
Your doctor can describe your pituitary microadenoma treatment choices
and the expected results of each. You and the doctor can work together to
develop a treatment plan that best meets your medical needs and personal
values. Choosing the most appropriate pituitary microadenoma treatment method
is a decision that ideally involves the patient, family, and healthcare team.
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