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Hypopituitary

When to Seek Medical Care

Call the doctor or health care practitioner if any of the above symptoms develop.

Exams and Tests

The doctor or health care practitioner may perform blood tests to determine which hormone level is low and to rule out other causes. The following tests may be performed:

  • ACTH and Cortrosyn stimulation test
  • TSH and thyroxine test
  • FSH and LH and either estradiol or testosterone (whichever is appropriate for the patient)
  • Prolactin test
  • GH stimulation test

An MRI or CT scan of the pituitary gland may be obtained to determine if a tumor is present.

In children, x-rays of the hands may be taken to determine if bones are growing normally.

Hypopituitary Treatment - Medical Treatment

Medical treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy and treatment of the underlying cause.

Medications

Drugs used to treat hypopituitarism replace the deficient hormone.

  • Glucocorticoids (for example, hydrocortisone) are used to treat adrenal insufficiency resulting from ACTH deficiency.
  • Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is used for hypothyroidism (a condition in which thyroid production is low). Drugs, such as levothyroxine (for example, Synthroid, Levoxyl), may be used. In the drug’s active form, it influences growth and development of tissues.
  • Sex hormone deficiency is treated with sex-appropriate hormones such as testosterone or estrogen.
    • Testosterone replacement therapy (for example, Andro-LA or Androderm) is used in men. Testosterone promotes and maintains the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair in males with androgen deficiency.
    • Estrogen replacement therapy (for example, Premarin) with or without progesterone is used in women. Estrogens are important in developing and maintaining the female reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics such as breast development.
  • Growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy (for example, Genotropin or Humatrope) is used for children as appropriate. Growth hormone stimulates linear growth and growth of skeletal muscle and organs. GH therapy may also be used in adults, but it will not make them grow taller.

 

Surgery

If a tumor is involved, surgery may be performed, depending on its type and location.

Next Steps - Follow-up

Checkups with the doctor or health care practitioner are important. The doctor may need to adjust the dose of hormone replacement therapy.

Outlook

If hormone replacement therapy is adequate, the prognosis is good. Complications are often related to the underlying disease.

For More Information

Visit the Pituitary Network Association web site.

Synonyms and Keywords

hypopituitarism, panhypopituitarism, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, pituitary insufficiency, underactive pituitary gland, thyroid hormone deficiency, growth hormone deficiency, FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone, LH, luteinizing hormone, adrenocorticotropin hormone, ACTH, prolactin, ADH, antidiuretic hormone, low hormones

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WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on April 26, 2014

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