Pronounced: Hi-po-pi-TUI-tar-ismEn Español (Spanish Version)
The pituitary gland is in the brain. It produces several important hormones that control the production of other hormones made by glands in the body.
The pituitary gland is responsible for many body functions, including the following:
Hypopituitarism is an insufficient production of one or more hormones. It is not a common disorder. A problem in the pituitary can cause the amount of hormones from other glands to diminish as well. This can be a serious and sometimes, life-threatening problem. It will require care from your doctor.
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There are several factors which may cause this condition:
Factors that increase your the chance for hypopituitarism include:
Symptoms often begin gradually and are not very specific since hormones control a variety of body functions. They may not be recognized for a while. Specific symptoms will depend on the type and level of hormone affected. For example:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist. This is a type of doctor that focuses on hormone disorders.
Tests to determine hypopituitarism include taking a blood sample to do the following:
Provocative tests of pituitary function may also be done such as:
Once the diagnosis is confirmed:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. This condition is likely permanent, though also depends on the cause. It will likely need to be treated for life. Treatment options include:
If the condition is caused by a tumor, it is first treated with medications such as:
Medication may not always work. In this case, surgery may be needed. If a tumor is involved it will be removed. Part or all of the gland may be removed as well.
Hormone replacement therapy is needed after surgery or if other hormone deficiencies are found.
When the target hormone levels are inadequate, they must be replaced. In most cases, therapy does not replace the hormones that the pituitary gland produces. Instead, the hormones of the other target glands that it stimulates are replaced. Examples include:
Treatment with radiation may be used after drug or surgical treatment or if they have failed.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.