Last updated
ICD-9-CM 07.6
MeSH D007016

Hypophysectomy is the surgical removal of the hypophysis (pituitary gland). It is most commonly performed to treat tumors, especially craniopharyngioma tumors. [1] Sometimes it is used to treat Cushing's syndrome due to pituitary adenoma [2] or Simmond's disease [3] It is also applied in neurosciences (in experiments with lab animals) to understand the functioning of hypophysis. There are various ways a hypophysectomy can be carried out. These methods include transsphenoidal hypophysectomy, open craniotomy, and stereotactic radiosurgery.


Medications that are given as hormone replacement therapy following a complete hypophysectomy (removal of the pituitary gland) are often glucocorticoids. [4] Secondary Addison's and hyperlipidemia can occur. Thyroid hormone is useful in controlling cholesterol metabolism that has been affected by pituitary deletion. [5]

Methods of hypophysectomy

Hypophysectomies can be performed in three ways. These include transsphenoidal hypophysectomy, open craniotomy, and stereotactic radiosurgery. Each of these methods differ in the method in which the pituitary gland is removed.[ citation needed ]

Transsphenoidal hypophysectomy

In a transsphenoidal hypophysectomy, the pituitary gland or section of the pituitary gland is removed through the sphenoid sinus and out through the nose. [6]

Open craniotomy

In an open craniotomy, a cavity is opened within the skull to reach the pituitary gland. [4] Once the cavity is open, the pituitary gland is removed through the cavity.

Stereotactic radiosurgery

in stereotactic radiosurgery, a headframe is applied to a patient. [7] MRI or CT scans are then administered on the patient to allow a map of the head/brain to be formed. This map will then be used as a guide to allow correct orientation of the lasers administering radiation to specifically destroy the pituitary gland or part of the pituitary gland.


Hypophysectomy performed at any age causes atrophy of the thyroid and adrenal glands as well as asthenia and cachexia. When the procedure is performed before sexual maturity, the reproductive tract remains undeveloped and non-functional. There is also a general lack of growth. If performed after sexual maturity, there will be a loss of reproductive function along with atrophy of gonads and accessory reproductive structures.

There is a risk of cerebral spinal fluid leak due to penetration of the basal skull and risk of increased cerebral spinal fluid pressure that may lead to central nervous system changes. Post surgery, patients may have a severely altered self-image that may lead to an increased risk of suicide. There is also an increased risk of hemorrhage and infection secondary to the surgical procedure. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Endocrine system The bodys hormone-producing glands

The endocrine system is a messenger system comprising feedback loops of the hormones released by internal glands of an organism directly into the circulatory system, regulating distant target organs. In vertebrates, the hypothalamus is the neural control center for all endocrine systems. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands. The study of the endocrine system and its disorders is known as endocrinology.

Neurosurgery Medical specialty of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system

Neurosurgery or neurological surgery, known in common parlance as brain surgery, is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, surgical treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, central and peripheral nervous system, and cerebrovascular system.

Pituitary gland Endocrine gland at the base of the brain

In vertebrate anatomy, the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an endocrine gland, about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 grams (0.018 oz) in humans. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. The hypophysis rests upon the hypophysial fossa of the sphenoid bone in the center of the middle cranial fossa and is surrounded by a small bony cavity covered by a dural fold. The anterior pituitary is a lobe of the gland that regulates several physiological processes including stress, growth, reproduction, and lactation. The intermediate lobe synthesizes and secretes melanocyte-stimulating hormone. The posterior pituitary is a lobe of the gland that is functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence via a small tube called the pituitary stalk.

Cushings syndrome Symptoms from excessive exposure to glucocorticoids such as cortisol

Cushing's syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms due to prolonged exposure to glucocorticoids such as cortisol. Signs and symptoms may include high blood pressure, abdominal obesity but with thin arms and legs, reddish stretch marks, a round red face, a fat lump between the shoulders, weak muscles, weak bones, acne, and fragile skin that heals poorly. Women may have more hair and irregular menstruation. Occasionally there may be changes in mood, headaches, and a chronic feeling of tiredness.

Anterior pituitary Anterior lobe of the pituitary gland

A major organ of the endocrine system, the anterior pituitary is the glandular, anterior lobe that together with the posterior lobe makes up the pituitary gland (hypophysis). The anterior pituitary regulates several physiological processes, including stress, growth, reproduction, and lactation. Proper functioning of the anterior pituitary and of the organs it regulates can often be ascertained via blood tests that measure hormone levels.

Cushing's disease is one cause of Cushing's syndrome characterised by increased secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the anterior pituitary. This is most often as a result of a pituitary adenoma or due to excess production of hypothalamus CRH that stimulates the synthesis of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Pituitary adenomas are responsible for 80% of endogenous Cushing's syndrome, when excluding Cushing's syndrome from exogenously administered corticosteroids. The equine version of this disease is Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.

Adenoma Type of benign tumor

An adenoma is a benign tumor of epithelial tissue with glandular origin, glandular characteristics, or both. Adenomas can grow from many glandular organs, including the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, thyroid, prostate, and others. Some adenomas grow from epithelial tissue in nonglandular areas but express glandular tissue structure. Although adenomas are benign, they should be treated as pre-cancerous. Over time adenomas may transform to become malignant, at which point they are called adenocarcinomas. Most adenomas do not transform. However, even though benign, they have the potential to cause serious health complications by compressing other structures and by producing large amounts of hormones in an unregulated, non-feedback-dependent manner. Some adenomas are too small to be seen macroscopically but can still cause clinical symptoms.

Parathyroid chief cell

Parathyroid chief cells are one of the two cell types of the parathyroid glands, along with oxyphil cells. The chief cells are much more prevalent in the parathyroid gland than the oxyphil cells. It is perceived that oxyphil cells may be derived from chief cells at puberty, as they are not present at birth like chief cells.

Hypopituitarism Medical condition

Hypopituitarism is the decreased (hypo) secretion of one or more of the eight hormones normally produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. If there is decreased secretion of one specific pituitary hormone, the condition is known as selective hypopituitarism. If there is decreased secretion of most or all pituitary hormones, the term panhypopituitarism is used.

Pituitary adenoma Human disease

Pituitary adenomas are tumors that occur in the pituitary gland. Pituitary adenomas are generally divided into three categories dependent upon their biological functioning: benign adenoma, invasive adenoma, and carcinomas. Most adenomas are benign, approximately 35% are invasive and just 0.1% to 0.2% are carcinomas. Pituitary adenomas represent from 10% to 25% of all intracranial neoplasms and the estimated prevalence rate in the general population is approximately 17%.

Endocrine gland Glands of the endocrine system that secrete hormones to blood

Endocrine glands are ductless glands of the endocrine system that secrete their products, hormones, directly into the blood. The major glands of the endocrine system include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands are neuroendocrine organs.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 Medical condition

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) is one of a group of disorders, the multiple endocrine neoplasias, that affect the endocrine system through development of neoplastic lesions in pituitary, parathyroid gland and pancreas. It was first described by Paul Wermer in 1954.

Thyroid disease Medical condition

Thyroid disease is a medical condition that affects the function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck and produces thyroid hormones that travel through the blood to help regulate many other organs, meaning that it is an endocrine organ. These hormones normally act in the body to regulate energy use, infant development, and childhood development.

Nelson's syndrome is a rare disorder that sometimes occurs in patients in about 15-25% of patients who have had both adrenal glands removed to treat Cushing's disease. In patients with pre-existing adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenomas, loss of adrenal feedback following bilateral adrenalectomy can trigger the rapid growth of the tumor, leading to visual symptoms and hyperpigmentation. The severity of the disease is dependent upon the effect of ACTH release on the skin, pituitary hormone loss from mass compression, as well as invasion into surrounding structures around the pituitary gland.

Hyperpituitarism Medical condition

Hyperpituitarism is a condition due to the primary hypersecretion of pituitary hormones; it typically results from a pituitary adenoma. In children with hyperpituitarism, disruption of growth regulation is rare, either because of hormone hypersecretion or because of manifestations caused by local compression of the adenoma.

Pituitary apoplexy is bleeding into or impaired blood supply of the pituitary gland. This usually occurs in the presence of a tumor of the pituitary, although in 80% of cases this has not been diagnosed previously. The most common initial symptom is a sudden headache, often associated with a rapidly worsening visual field defect or double vision caused by compression of nerves surrounding the gland. This is often followed by acute symptoms caused by lack of secretion of essential hormones, predominantly adrenal insufficiency.

Endocrine disease Medical condition

Endocrine diseases are disorders of the endocrine system. The branch of medicine associated with endocrine disorders is known as endocrinology.

Transsphenoidal surgery is a type of surgery in which an endoscope or surgical instruments are inserted into part of the brain by going through the nose and the sphenoid bone into the sphenoidal sinus cavity. Transsphenoidal surgery is used to remove tumors of the pituitary gland..

Acromegaly Human disease that results in excess growth of certain parts of the body

Acromegaly is a disorder that results from excess growth hormone (GH) after the growth plates have closed. The initial symptom is typically enlargement of the hands and feet. There may also be an enlargement of the forehead, jaw, and nose. Other symptoms may include joint pain, thicker skin, deepening of the voice, headaches, and problems with vision. Complications of the disease may include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.

Endoscopic endonasal surgery is a minimally invasive technique used mainly in neurosurgery and otolaryngology. A neurosurgeon or an otolaryngologist, using an endoscope that is entered through the nose, fixes or removes brain defects or tumors in the anterior skull base. Normally an otolaryngologist performs the initial stage of surgery through the nasal cavity and sphenoid bone; a neurosurgeon performs the rest of the surgery involving drilling into any cavities containing a neural organ such as the pituitary gland. The use of endoscope was first introduced in Transsphenoidal Pituitary Surgery by R Jankowsky, J Auque, C Simon et al. in 1992 G.


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