A case series of closed head trauma with pituitary stalk disruption resulting in hypopituitarism

Khuram Khan, Saqib Saeed, Alexius Ramcharan, Sanjiv Gray
International Journal of Surgery Case Reports 2018, 43: 69-71

INTRODUCTION: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality in young trauma patients with resultant multi-organ effects. Hypopituitarism following TBI can be debilitating and life threatening. TBI which causes hypopituitarism may be characterized by a single head injury, such as from a motor vehicle accident, or by chronic repetitive head trauma, as seen in combative supports including boxing, kick-boxing, and football. In the majority of cases, a diagnosis of hypopituitarism can be entirely missed resulting in severe neuro-endocrine dysfunction. We present a case series of two patients diagnosed with hypopituitarism after TBI and treated appropriately with favorable outcome.

CASE PRESENTATIONS: The first case is a 34 year-old male, who presented to the emergency department with blunt head trauma after a motor vehicle accident while riding his bicycle. He suffered from severe cranio-facial injuries, resulting in multifocal hemorrhagic contusions, epidural hematoma, and extensive cranio-facial fractures involving the sinuses. The patient developed persistent hypotension with a blood pressure as low as 60/40 mmHg on hospital day three. The second case is a 56 year-old male with a history of schizophrenia, who suffered traumatic brain injury after he was hit by a train. The patient sustained multiple facial fractures, pneumocephalus and C2/7 transverse processes fractures. He also had persistent hypotension, unresponsive to standard treatment. Investigation revealed a deficiency of anterior pituitary hormones resulting from pituitary axis disruption.

DISCUSSION: Hypopituitarism is becoming an increasingly recognized complication following TBI, ranging from total to isolated deficiencies. Traumatic Brain Injury is a major public health problem and is one of the leading causes of disability. Understanding and recognizing pituitary dysfunction after TBI can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life.

CONCLUSION: Patients with major head injury and, in particular, those with fractures of the base of the skull, must be closely monitored for signs and symptoms of endocrine dysfunction. Appropriate dynamic pituitary-function screening should be performed.

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