Pituitary apoplexy is the death of an area of tissue in the pituitary gland.
The pituitary is a small gland at the base of the brain. The pituitary produces many of the hormones that control essential body processes.
Pituitary apoplexy is commonly caused by bleeding inside a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary. When pituitary bleeding occurs in a woman during or right after childbirth, it is called Sheehan syndrome.
If other missing hormones are not replaced, symptoms of hypothyroidism and hypogonadism may develop.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of chronic pituitary insufficiency.
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms of acute pituitary apoplexy, including:
Eye weakness or vision loss
Low blood pressure (which can cause fainting)
If you develop these symptoms and you have already been diagnosed with a pituitary tumor, seek medical help right away.
Melmed S, Kleinberg D. Pituitary masses and tumors. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 9.
Murad-Kejbou S. Pituitary apoplexy: evaluation, management, and prognosis. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2009;20: 456-461.
Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.