Pituitary tumor apoplexy in adolescents

World Neurosurg. 2015 Apr;83(4):644-51. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2014.12.026. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether there are differences in pituitary apoplexy and subclinical apoplexy secondary to adenoma hemorrhage in the adolescent population with regard to symptomatology, neuroimaging features, pathology, and outcomes compared with adults.

Methods: A retrospective series of 9 consecutive patients with a diagnosis of pituitary hemorrhage who were surgically treated at Rady's Children's Hospital San Diego, between 2008 and 2013 were evaluated for clinical, endocrine, neuroradiographic, and pathologic features in association with clinical outcomes.

Results: Nine patients (6 girls, age 14-21 years) presented to our institution with headache (9/9), nausea (3/9), dizziness (4/9), and visual disturbances (6/9) in the setting of a sellar hemorrhagic tumor on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Three patients presented with apoplexy and 6 with subclinical apoplexy. Duration of symptoms ranged from 3 days to 1 year. MRI revealed hemorrhage (9/9), rim enhancement (6/9), sphenoid sinus mucosal thickening (2/9), mass effect on the optic chiasm (8/9), and sellar remodeling (9/9). The percentage of hemorrhage preoperatively observed on MRI ranged from 50% to greater than 95%. On presentation, hyperprolactinemia was recorded in 7 patients, 6 of whom had galactorrhea and/or amenorrhea. Open transsphenoidal decompression was performed in 8/9 patients; 7 of 9 were diagnosed with prolactinoma. Biopsy specimens revealed 10%-90% hemorrhage and no infarction in any of the cases. All patients treated showed improvement of symptoms after surgery (average follow-up, 28.2 months). Postoperative complications included transient diabetes insipidus (n = 5), persistent cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea (n = 3), and meningitis (n = 1). Five patients had long-term endocrine sequelae of hyperprolactinemia requiring ongoing medical treatment.

Conclusions: Pituitary hemorrhage resulting in apoplexy or subclinical apoplexy in adolescents may represent a distinct entity with a more indolent symptomatology and more favorable neurologic and endocrine outcome compared with adults that is worthy of further validation in a multi-institutional cohort.

Keywords: Adenoma; Adolescents; Apoplexy; Pituitary; Prolactinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Pituitary Apoplexy / pathology
  • Pituitary Apoplexy / surgery*
  • Pituitary Function Tests
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / complications
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Tests
  • Young Adult