The association of pituitary tumors and headache

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2011 Apr;11(2):164-70. doi: 10.1007/s11910-010-0166-7.


Pituitary tumors may give rise to headache via numerous mechanisms. The traditional explanation for headache is dural stretch and cavernous sinus invasion, although this is not borne out by clinical studies. Certain functional pituitary tumors are associated with headache, notably growth hormone and prolactin-secreting tumors. The observation that somatostatin analogues can have a dramatic analgesic effect in acromegaly suggests that biochemical properties of the tumor may be important. The genetic predisposition of the patient to primary headache also determines whether headache occurs with pituitary tumors. This article attempts to outline the clinical features, management strategies, and key academic questions regarding the subject of pituitary tumors and headache.

MeSH terms

  • Acromegaly / etiology
  • Acromegaly / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Headache / classification
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Prolactin / metabolism


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Prolactin