Ruptured aneurysm-induced pituitary apoplexy: illustrative case

J Neurosurg Case Lessons. 2021 Jun 28;1(26):CASE21169. doi: 10.3171/CASE21169.


Background: Pituitary apoplexy associated with aneurysmal rupture is extremely rare and may be misdiagnosed as primary pituitary adenoma apoplexy. The authors present a case of a patient with pituitary apoplexy caused by rupture of an anterior cerebral artery aneurysm embedded within a giant pituitary adenoma, and they review the relevant literature.

Observations: A 78-year-old man experienced sudden headache with progressive vision loss. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a giant pituitary tumor with abnormal signal intensity. Magnetic resonance angiography immediately before surgery showed a right A1 segment aneurysm, suggesting coexisting pituitary apoplexy and ruptured aneurysm. The patient underwent urgent transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary apoplexy. The tumor was partially removed, but the perianeurysmal component was left behind. Subsequent cerebral angiography showed a 5-mm right A1 aneurysm with a bleb that was successfully embolized with coils. Retrospective review of preoperative dynamic MRI showed extravasation of contrast medium from the ruptured aneurysm into the pituitary adenoma. Histopathologic examination showed gonadotroph adenoma with hemorrhagic necrosis. Postoperatively, the patient's visual function improved.

Lessons: MRI identification of pituitary apoplexy caused by aneurysmal rupture has not been reported previously. Aneurysmal rupture should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pituitary apoplexy. When a ruptured aneurysm is encountered, the authors recommend treating it before addressing pituitary apoplexy.

Keywords: CT = computed tomography; GH = growth hormone; MRI = magnetic resonance imaging; PRL = prolactin; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; anterior cerebral artery aneurysm; nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma; pituitary apoplexy; ruptured aneurysm.

Publication types

  • Case Reports