Issue: 2004 > November > case report

Pituitary apoplexy presenting during pregnancy

L.J.M. de Heide, K.M. van Tol, B. Doorenbos


Pituitary apoplexy during pregnancy is a rare but serious
event with significant morbidity and even possible mortality if not recognised in time. A 26-year-old woman was admitted with sudden onset of severe headache, vomiting, disturbed consciousness and photophobia. MRI showed a pituitary apoplexy. Adrenal insufficiency with circulatory shock was present together with deficiency of the other hormones produced by the adenohypophysis. After treatment with glucocorticoids, diabetes insipidus developed for which treatment was given. She was treated conservatively and the clinical picture improved in a few days, followed by an uneventful pregnancy and delivery. A second MRI showed regression of mass effect with tumour expanding into the left cavernous sinus. No signs of tumour progression or abnormal hormone secretion have occurred up to one year after the event. Complete pituitary insufficiency has remained. The literature on the subject is reviewed with
special emphasis on the circumstances in which pituitary
apoplexy occurred and on the treatment of this endocrine emergency. In conclusion, pituitary apoplexy is a rare complication of pregnancy. The severe consequences of missing the diagnosis underline the importance of this potentially lethal endocrine emergency.