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Pituitary tumor apoplexy: characteristics, treatment, and outcomes.

Neurosurgical Focus 2004 April 16
Pituitary tumor apoplexy is an uncommon event heralded by abrupt onset of severe headache, restriction of visual fields, deterioration of visual acuity, and weakness of ocular motility frequently coupled with clinical indications of decreased endocrine function. Hemorrhage into or necrosis of a preexisting sellar mass, usually a pituitary macroadenoma, produces an expansion of sellar contents. Compression of adjacent structures elicits the variable expression of symptoms referable to displacement of the optic nerves and chiasm and impingement of the third, fourth, and sixth cranial nerves. Damage to or destruction of the anterior pituitary leads to multiple acute and/or chronic hormone deficiencies in many patients. Medical management may be used in rare cases in which the signs and symptoms are mild and restricted to meningismus or ophthalmoplegia deemed to be stable. In patients with visual or oculomotor lability or an altered level of consciousness, expeditious surgical decompression, accomplished most commonly through a transsphenoidal approach, should be performed to save life and vision and to optimize the chance of regaining or maintaining pituitary function.

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