What is a pituitary tumor?
A pituitary tumor is a tumor located on the pituitary gland, which is located behind the nasal passages below the brain. Patients may have a this tumor if they experience symptoms such as headache, loss of vision, decreased libido, nausea, dry skin, growth failure, intolerance to cold, fatigue, constipation, abnormal blood pressure, frequent urination and more. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, most patients must receive corrective surgery.
Patients with an operable pituitary tumor are treated through a pituitary tumor resection. This surgery is often transsphenoidal, or done through the sphenoid sinus, which is a hollow space in the skill behind the nasal passages. At myHoustonSurgeons, for qualified patients, this surgery is performed endoscopically, to ensure no visible incision is necessary. If the tumor is located in a difficult space, surgery may require a visible incision through the upper lip or nasal cartilage, or may even require a craniotomy. Patient eligibility is determined during a consultation with our sinus surgeons.
Before the surgery, our sinus surgeons will consult with a neurosurgeon, as the pituitary gland is intracranial, and a team approach ensures the best outcome. In preparation, the team of surgeons may use CT or MRI scans to learn as much about the tumor as possible, in order to predict the best surgical approach and/or to determine if the tumor has invaded other structures. If the tumor has spread to other tissue, a different surgical approach may be necessary to remove it in its entirety.
During a transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection, a rhinologist passes an endoscope and other surgical instruments through the nose to open the sphenoid sinus. After opening, the surgeon is able to reach the pituitary gland and remove the tumor.
The recovery time for this type of resection is usually minimal, though patients may experience congestion and headaches for up to two weeks after the procedure.
Because a pituitary tumor can cause many kinds of vision and hormonal problems, if you believe you may have one, it’s important to consult with a certified rhinologist like those at Houston Plastic Craniofacial & Sinus Surgery, so they can diagnose the problem and come up with an efficient treatment plan to safely remove it.