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Enlargement of the Pituitary Gland

By Ian M. Chapman, MBBS, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital

Enlargement of the pituitary gland is usually due to a tumor but may be due to bleeding into the gland or involvement by some other disease, such as tuberculosis or sarcoidosis.

An enlarged pituitary gland may cause symptoms such as headaches. Because the growing gland often presses on the optic nerve, which passes above the pituitary gland, loss of vision may occur. Vision loss often initially affects only the upper, outermost fields of vision in both eyes.

Underproduction or overproduction of pituitary hormones may also occur.

Diagnosis is by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Pituitary function is checked by measuring hormone levels in the blood.

Treatment depends on the cause of the enlargement.