Extensive investigation of 114 patients with Sheehan's syndrome: a continuing disorder

Halit Diri, Fatih Tanriverdi, Zuleyha Karaca, Serkan Senol, Kursad Unluhizarci, Ahmet Candan Durak, Hulusi Atmaca, Fahrettin Kelestimur
European Journal of Endocrinology 2014, 171 (3): 311-8

OBJECTIVE: Sheehan's syndrome (SS) is a well-known cause of hypopituitarism resulting from postpartum pituitary necrosis. Because of its rarity in Western society, its diagnosis is often overlooked. We aimed to investigate the clinical, laboratory, and radiological aspects of SS in a large number of patients.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective assessment of the medical records of 114 patients with SS was conducted. In addition, sella turcica volumes of 29 healthy women were compared with those of patients by magnetic resonance imaging examinations.

RESULTS: The mean period of diagnostic delay was 19.7 years in patients with SS. It was found that 52.6% of patients had nonspecific complaints, 30.7% had complaints related to adrenal insufficiency, and 9.6% had complaints related to hypogonadism when diagnosed. At the time of diagnosis, 55.3% of the patients had panhypopituitarism, while 44.7% had partial hypopituitarism. The number of deficient hormones was found to be increased over the years. None of the patients whose basal prolactin was below 4.0 ng/ml had adequate prolactin responses to TRH test, while all patients whose basal prolactin was above 7.8 ng/ml had adequate responses. Mean sella volume was found to be significantly lower in the SS group (340.5±214 mm(3)) than that in the healthy group (602.5±192 mm(3)).

CONCLUSIONS: SS is a common cause of hypopituitarism in underdeveloped and developing countries. The main reasons for diagnostic delay seem to be the high frequency of patients with nonspecific complaints and neglect of SS. In addition, the TRH stimulation test was found to have a high sensitivity and specificity to recognize PRL deficiency. Furthermore, small sella size may have an important contributing role in the etiopathogenesis of SS.

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