Pituitary Disorders

  • The Pituitary Gland is a small gland, about the size of a pea, located in a bony hollow called the pituitary fossa behind the bridge of the nose at the base of the brain. It secretes hormones that regulate homeostasis, which is the ability or tendancy of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes. It controls the thyroid, adrenals, testes in men, ovaries in women, breast and milk production in females and growth, it also regulates the water and salt balance in the body.

    • Acromegaly describes the condition resulting from too much growth hormone (GH) and is caused by a tumour on the pituitary gland producing excess levels of growth hormone. These tumours are almost always benign (i.e. not cancerous) and therefore do not spread to other areas of the body. Acromegaly is a very rare condition.
    • Addison’s Disease describes the condition resulting from too little steroid hormones, see under Adrenal Disorders.
    • Cushing’s Syndrome describes the condition resulting from exposure to an excess of steroid hormones.
    • Craniopharyngioma is a tumour arising just behind the pituitary gland that can compress and reduce pituitary function.
    • Diabetes Insipidus describes the condition resulting from too little vasopressin that controls water and salt balance.
    • Hypopituitarism describes the condition where the pituitary as a whole does not function.
    • Prolactinoma is the most common pituitary adenoma which produces too much prolactin causing loss of periods, infertility and unusual milk production in females and low testosterone in males.

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