Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
  Users Online: 2125 Home | About the Journal | InstructionsCurrent Issue | Back IssuesLogin      Print this page Email this page  Small font size Default font size Increase font size

Year : 2009  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 54-55

Pituitary apoplexy in a pregnant woman

Neurosurgery Unit, Department of General Surgery, NSCB Government Medical College and Hospital, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh - 482 002, India

Date of Submission26-Oct-2008
Date of Decision22-Aug-2008
Date of Acceptance09-Nov-2008

Correspondence Address:
Vijay Parihar
Neurosurgery Unit, Department of General Surgery, NSCB Government Medical College and Hospital Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh-482 003
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.48861

Rights and Permissions


How to cite this article:
Parihar V, Yadav Y R, Sharma D. Pituitary apoplexy in a pregnant woman. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2009;12:54-5

How to cite this URL:
Parihar V, Yadav Y R, Sharma D. Pituitary apoplexy in a pregnant woman. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2022 Dec 9];12:54-5. Available from:

A 22-year-old woman, a known case of macroprolactinoma, was under good control with bromocriptine therapy. Bromocriptine was stopped as pregnancy was diagnosed and serum prolactine level was <20 ng/ml. She was under regular neuroendocrinal and gynecological evaluation. In twentieth week of her pregnancy she presented with headache and vision loss. Rest of her CNS examination was normal. Serum prolactine level was 250.0 ng/ml. MRI of the brain showed pituitary apoplexy and compression over optic nerve and chiasma [Figure 1A],[Figure 1B],[Figure 1C]. Ultrasonography of abdomen and pelvis was done and fetal well being was assessed. The patient underwent standard transsphenoidal decompression of gland and removal of hematoma. She had relief of headache and restoration of normal vision postoperatively. Histological examination showed prolactine cell adenoma hemorrhagic changes. Her serum prolactine level became normal (20.0 ng/ml). She gave birth to a full term healthy baby girl and had normal lactation. At the second year follow up she was doing well without any visual or neurological deficit.

MRI studies conducted in pregnant women have shown that the volume of pituitary gland may increase by 45% at a growth rate of 0.08 mm per week. [1] Pituitary adenoma may grow more rapidly in pregnant women. As a result tumor is at risk for hemorrhage.

Contrast-enhanced MRI is the accepted diagnostic method for pituitary adenoma, specifically for prolactinoma in patients presenting with elevated prolactin levels. [2],[3],[4],[5] Signal intensity characteristics enable the differential diagnosis to be narrowed to a limited list of possibilities. These include neoplasms - craniopharyngioma, meningioma, germ cell tumor, epidermoid, dermoid, and Langerhans cell histiocytosis; aneurysms; congenital lesions - Rathke cleft cysts and arachnoid cysts; and infectious or inflammatory processes - tuberculosis, meningitis, sarcoidosis, and lymphocytic adenohypophysitis. [2],[6] Proper differentiation is of clinical importance, because it will dictate the use of surgical versus nonsurgical treatments. [6]

A diagnostic distinction on MR images may be made between these sellar masses. Adenomas usually are isointense relative to gray matter on T1- and T2-weighted images. [2] Most tumors enhance intensely and homogeneously. Multilobulated margins are a reliable indicator of an adenoma. Osseous sellar-wall erosion, including extension into the sphenoid sinus or through the dorsum or tuberculum sellae, is typical. This erosion is less common in other masses involving the sellar and suprasellar regions. Displacement of arteries is more common than encasement, which is seen in only 19% of reported macroadenomas. [4] The infundibulum can be deviated laterally or upwardly displaced against the inferior hypothalamus. [2]

Compression of the optic nerves, tracts, and chiasma may be visualized, although large tumors may obscure these structures due to thinning and displacement. Contrast agent administration may be helpful in separating the optic structures from the tumor; however, it usually is unnecessary in evaluating the extent of the tumor because of contrast enhancement provided by the adjacent cerebrospinal fluid. Hemorrhage occurs in as many as 22% of all pituitary adenomas. An eccentric or central hyperintensity that corresponds to subacute hemorrhage, specifically methemoglobin, is visible on all MR images. Areas of cystic degeneration or necrosis, which have heterogeneous signal intensity characteristics, also may be observed in some macroadenomas. Cysts in necrotic adenomas are hyperintense on T2-weighted images and hypointense on T1-weighted images. Cysts do not enhance after contrast agent administration. [2]

In conclusion, MRI is the most helpful imaging study in these lesions to identify key distinguishing features helpful in making diagnosis leading to the proper approach and therapy.

   References Top

1.Elster AD, Sanders TG, Vines FS, Chen MY. Size and shape of pituitary gland during pregnancy and post partum: Measurement with MR imaging. Radiology 1991;181:531-5.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
2.Hershey BL. Suprasellar masses: Diagnosis and differential diagnosis. Semin Ultrasound CT MR 1993;14:215-31.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Magnaldi S, Frezza F, Longo R, Ukmar M, Razavi IS, Pozzi-Mucelli RS. Assessment of pituitary microadenomas: Comparison between 2D and 3D MR sequences. Magn Reson Imaging 1997;15:21-7.   Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
4.Rand T, Kink E, Sator M, Schneider B, Huber J, Imhof H, et al. MRI of microadenomas in patients with hyperprolactinaemia. Neuroradiology1996;38:744-6.   Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
5.Kobayashi S, Ikeda H, Yoshimoto T. A clinical and histopathological study of factors affecting MRI signal intensities of pituitary adenomas. Neuroradiology 1994;36:298-302.   Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  
6.Donovan JL, Nesbit GM. Distinction of masses involving the sella and suprasellar space: specificity of imaging features. AJR Am J Radiol 1996;167:597-603.  Back to cited text no. 6    


  [Figure 1A], [Figure 1B], [Figure 1C]

This article has been cited by
1 result 1 Document Cure of acromegaly and diabetes mellitus after pituitary apoplexy
Authors of Document Chenlli, F., Terki, B., Djerradi, L., Bclhimer, F., Azzoug, S.
Source of the Document Acta Endocrinologica. 2012;


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article


   Next article
   Previous article 
   Table of Contents
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Article in PDF (110 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded212    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal