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SARS-Cov-2 Infection: A New Risk Factor for Pituitary Apoplexy?

BACKGROUND: Pituitary apoplexy (PA) can arise from haemorrhage or ischaemia of pituitary tissue and is characterized by abrupt onset of headache, visual impairment and hypopituitarism. COVID-19 may be associated with various degrees of vascular complications and, recently, its relationship with PA has been suggested. Cases Presentation Case 1: A 64-year-old male with type 2 diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease was admitted to the ER, after several days of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, with symptoms of PA of a known non-functioning pituitary macroadenoma. The hormonal panel was consistent with anterior panhypopituitarism and the sellar MRI showed haemorrhagic changes of macroadenoma tissue. Transsphenoidal resection of the pituitary lesion was carried out seven days after admission. Although a volumetric reduction of the lesion was apparent during follow-up, some degree of visual symptoms endured. Case 2: An 18-year-old, otherwise healthy, female presented to the ER with symptoms of PA of a recently-diagnosed non-functioning pituitary macroadenoma, after ten days of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. Central hypocortisolism and hypothyroidism were diagnosed and, after six days, the lesion was surgically resected. At two months follow-up, clinical symptoms had completely resolved, and the hormonal panel was normal.

CONCLUSION: Alongside known risk factors (hypertension, anticoagulation, pregnancy, surgery, etc.), COVID-19 infection might represent an emerging predisposing factor for PA onset. The two cases hereby presented are both significant: the first confirms the role of "classic" vascular predisposing factors for PA, while the second demonstrates that PA might arise also in young patients without known risk factors.

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