Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths that develop in the pituitary gland—a pea-sized gland referred to as the body’s master gland because it plays a major role in regulating many vital bodily functions and controls most of the other hormone-secreting glands.
Many cases of pituitary tumors don’t need any type of intervention. For those that do, the type required will depend on the size, type, and how far into the brain it has grown.
Pituitary tumor surgery is likely necessary if the tumor is causing the overproduction of certain hormones or putting pressure on the optic nerve, thereby producing symptoms, such as sudden blindness, severe headaches, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
Types of Pituitary Tumor Surgery
Pituitary tumor surgery has two different types, as explained below:
- Open craniotomy- This involves accessing and removing the tumor/s through an opening in the skull. A craniotomy is reserved for larger tumors, which can invade the brain.
- Trans-sphenoidal surgery- This involves accessing the area under the brain through the nasal passages into the sphenoid sinuses, which are located toward the back of the head. The trans-sphenoidal procedure is preferred when the growth is smaller. This type of surgery involves a lesser risk of postoperative complications, such as bleeding, bruising of the face, nausea, visual disturbances, among several others.
Recovery After Pituitary Tumor Surgery
After your surgery, your doctor will give you a detailed list of postoperative instructions, which you need to strictly follow to reduce your risk of complications and ensure optimal recovery. Your postoperative instructions may include:
- Refraining from heavy lifting, smoking, and driving. Your surgeon will inform you when it’s safe to resume your normal activities, work, and drive.
- Raising the head of your bed about 30 degrees to reduce the pressure on your face and head
- Getting your hormone blood levels monitored
- Taking pain and hormone medications, as directed
- Consuming a high-fiber diet to minimize postoperative constipation and straining at stool
- Taking vitamin and potassium supplements at home (you may receive potassium by IV in the hospital)
- Gradually resuming ambulation, as directed by your doctor
- Having someone to assist you at home and do household chores and errands for you a week or two following your surgery
- Staying in close communication with your doctor and seeing them for a follow-up appointment. Most pituitary gland surgeries are highly successful, but it’s wise to stay in close communication with your doctor to ensure the best possible outcome.
At Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, we offer high-quality, comprehensive care for the full range of cranial conditions, including pituitary tumors, strokes, and traumatic brain injury. Our board-certified neurosurgeons on staff— Dr. Michael Rauzzino, Dr. Kevin Boyer, and Dr. Bradley Duhon—have established a reputation of excellence for the numerous successful surgeries they have performed, especially using the minimally invasive approach.
Call us to schedule a consultation with one of our neurosurgeons: (303) 790-1800. You may also use our online appointment request form.