Management of sellar and parasellar tumors becoming symptomatic during pregnancy: a practical algorithm based on multi-center experience and systematic literature review

Pituitary. 2021 Apr;24(2):269-283. doi: 10.1007/s11102-020-01107-2. Epub 2020 Nov 17.


Introduction: Sellar/parasellar tumors (SPTs) very rarely become symptomatic during pregnancy. No specific guidelines exist for their management, that is extremely challenging as mother and fetus health can be jeopardized.

Materials and methods: Data of patients with SPTs becoming symptomatic during pregnancy treated at two Italian referral Centers were retrospectively collected. Systematic literature review was also performed.

Results: Our series consisted of 6 cases, 3 meningiomas, 1 ACTH-secreting adenoma, 1 pituicytoma and 1 craniopharyngioma. Mean age at presentation was 33.6 ± 6.0 years. Five patients complained of visual disturbances, associated with headache in one case, that occurred between gestation week (GW) 22 and 34. In 5 cases, pregnancy was uneventful with the delivery of a healthy baby between GW 33 and 35, followed by endoscopic surgical tumor exeresis (n = 4) or proton bean therapy (n = 1). Another patient presented with stigmata typical of Cushing's syndrome and rapidly worsening pre-eclampsia, that required pregnancy interruption and adenomectomy. Based on personal and literature cases, a practical algorithm was proposed to help clinicians dealing with these patients.

Conclusions: SPTs becoming symptomatic in pregnancy deserve careful monitoring and multidisciplinary management. Overall, wait-and-see approach is suggested, reserving surgery to patients with rapidly progressive/life-threatening situations, significant risk of permanent neurological impairment or malignant lesions.

Keywords: Management; Meningioma; Outcome; Pituitary adenoma; Pituitary tumors; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic* / pathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies