What are the symptoms of pituitary tumors?

Because the optic nerve is so close to the pituitary gland, it is often affected by pituitary tumors, leading to vision problems.

When a tumor presses on the pituitary gland, it can cause hypopituitarism – a condition in which the pituitary gland fails to produce enough of one or more than one hormone or does not produce them at all. The signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on the hormone or hormones involved.

In some cases, pituitary tumors secrete hormones. This causes the body to produce too much of the secreted hormone – and sometimes other hormones – leading to distinct signs and symptoms based on the hormones involved.

General signs and symptoms of pituitary tumors include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord) leaking from the nose

How are pituitary tumors diagnosed?

Pituitary tumors are not easy to diagnose since they sometimes cause no symptoms. Even when they do cause symptoms, they can be diagnosed incorrectly as another condition. In some cases, doctors unexpectedly find pituitary tumors when performing MRI tests for another reason.

At Miami Cancer Institute, our neuroradiologists and neuropathologists are highly skilled at identifying the cause of your symptoms. If a pituitary tumor is found, they can pinpoint the exact type so you receive the correct treatment for your specific condition.

They use the following tests to provide an accurate diagnosis:

  • MRI. This imaging test shows the location and size of a pituitary tumor.
  • Blood tests. Blood tests check your hormone levels. Too much or too little of a certain hormone can help doctors determine the type of pituitary tumor you have.
  • Petrosal venous sampling. Our specialists use this minimally invasive procedure to learn if Cushing’s disease is the result of an ACTH-secreting adenoma. A surgeon inserts a catheter (small, flexible tube) into the veins that drain the pituitary gland – called the petrosal sinuses. He or she collects a blood sample from the petrosal sinuses through the catheter and compares it to a blood sample from veins in the groin area. You are sedated during the procedure.
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