Pituitary Disorders

Pituitary Disorders

Hypopituitarism, Acromegaly, Cushing's Disease

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Duke specialists treat complex and rare pituitary disorders that occur when your gland produces too much, or not enough of one or more of the eight hormones secreted by the pituitary gland. In addition to pituitary tumor treatment, we also manage and treat hypopituitarism, which is an underproduction of pituitary gland hormones, acromegaly, an overproduction of growth hormones, as well as Cushing’s Disease, which involves elevated cortisol levels.

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Treatments

Pituitary Tumor Removal

The goal of surgery is to remove the entire tumor safely while also preserving the function of the pituitary gland and nearby structures, such as the optic nerves. Small, easy to reach pituitary tumor may be removed through an endoscope inserted through your nose. Larger tumors may be removed through openings in the skull about the size of a nickel. In rare cases, a pituitary tumor may require more extensive surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Treats non-cancerous pituitary tumors (adenomas). High-energy rays deliver precise treatment to the pituitary tumor. Radiation may be used to shrink your tumor before surgery. Radiation may also be the only treatment used when tumors have spread into brain tissue, which may make them too risky to remove with surgery.

Medication

We may prescribe medication for acromegaly, prolactinomas and Cushing’s disease to block or lower your body’s production of growth hormones. Some patients will need lifelong medication to help control their hormone levels, even after surgery. We may also prescribe medication for patients who not candidates for surgery.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Tests

Urine and Blood Tests

Measure hormone levels in your urine and blood. You may need to collect urine for 24 hours, and show whether your pituitary gland is producing excessive cortisol.

Pituitary MRI

Uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed, high resolution images of your pituitary gland. These images are used to look for abnormalities.

Provocative/Suppression Test

Drugs or hormones artificially stimulate or prevent you from producing certain hormones so your doctor can see how your body reacts. Our endocrinologists and nurses are specialized in pituitary provocative testing.

Cortisol Stimulation Tests

Measures cortisol levels in your blood to assist in diagnosing Cushing’s disease.

Growth Hormone Suppressive Testing

Measures growth hormone levels before and after you consume a sugary drink, which should lower your levels. May indicate the presence of acromegaly if growth hormone levels stay high. 

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Why Choose Duke

Experienced Pituitary Disorder Specialists
You work with a team of doctors including endocrinologists and ear nose and throat surgeons who undergo advanced training and have years of experience working with patients with pituitary disorders like yours. Our experts include board-certified surgeons, radiation oncologists, neuro-ophthalmologists and dedicated nurses.

Nationally Recognized Surgeons
If you need surgery, our surgeons recommend the least invasive option for removing pituitary tumors when appropriate.

Personalized Treatments
We are experts at the medical management of pituitary disorders. Whenever possible, we use medication to control your symptoms and control hormone levels as an alternative to surgery. Our team is also trained to recognize when surgery is necessary.

Dedicated Pituitary Disorder Treatment Clinic
Our program offers highly-specialized care for pituitary disorders and pituitary tumors. Every Tuesday, you can be seen by an endocrinologist dedicated to managing and treating these conditions.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.