Pituitary Tumor Treatment

Pituitary Adenoma

For More Information 919-684-7777

If you have a pituitary tumor, including a pituitary adenoma, Duke’s team of experts work together to determine the most effective treatment for you. If you require pituitary tumor surgery, we offer the latest techniques including minimally invasive options, to treat your symptoms and get you back to your daily activities sooner. 

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About Pituitary Tumors

The pituitary gland is a pea-sized structure at the base of your brain, behind your nose that produces hormones and directs other glands in your body to produce hormones. Tumors on the pituitary gland are common and usually benign -- the most common benign pituitary tumors are called pituitary adenomas. Although benign pituitary tumors may never cause serious problems, they can create hormone imbalances that may lead to a variety of pituitary disorders. Pituitary tumors can also press on nearby nerves connected to your eyes, causing vision problems. Rarely, a pituitary tumor is cancerous and spreads beyond the pituitary gland to the brain, spinal cord, or other locations.

Pituitary growths or tumors we treat include:

  • Craniopharyngiomas
  • Pituitary adenomas, both functional and non-functional
  • Pituitary carcinomas
  • Pituicytomas
  • Prolactinomas
  • Rathke cleft cysts
Our Locations

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


In addition to a thorough physical exam and a discussion of your medical history, your doctor may recommend the following tests based on your symptoms and circumstances.


An MRI is the gold standard for pituitary tumor diagnosis. This imaging scan produces a detailed picture of the pituitary area. 

Hormone Level Testing

Samples of your blood, urine, or saliva are tested to determine whether your pituitary tumor is causing a hormone imbalance and how this may be affecting your health.

Eye Exam

A specially trained ophthalmologist or optometrist will test the clarity of your vision and look for problems such as double vision and peripheral vision loss that can be caused by a pituitary tumor pressing on an optic nerve.


Your care team will recommend a pituitary tumor treatment based on the size, location, and characteristics of your tumor, as well as other factors such as your overall health.


Your doctor may prescribe medicine to regulate hormones and to shrink the tumor. In many cases, this is the only treatment needed.

Radiation Therapy

If your pituitary tumor extends to an area where surgery could be risky, our experts may recommend radiation therapy (high energy X-ray treatment), either as standalone treatment or before or after surgery. This may be given daily for about five weeks or as stereotactic radiosurgery. A radiation oncologist will make recommendations based on the size of your tumor and its exact location within the brain.

Pituitary Tumor Surgery

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. We offer the full range of pituitary tumor surgical approaches, and our surgeons have extensive training and experience in the most advanced techniques that help you heal faster.

  • Endoscopic approach: Often, neurosurgeons and specialized ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors called sinus specialists work together to remove the tumor endoscopically, which means they access the tumor through your nose. This minimally invasive option leaves no external scarring and speeds recovery.
  • Keyhole craniotomy: When larger tumors are present, our surgeons offer keyhole craniotomies, in which the tumor is removed through a small opening in the skull that is about the size of a nickel.  
  • Open approach: In rare cases, a pituitary tumor may require a larger opening in the skull and more extensive surgery. 

Learn more about how we approach pituitary tumor surgery at Duke:

Follow-Up Care

After your tumor has been effectively treated -- through medication, radiation, or surgery -- your care team will continue to monitor your condition with regular MRI scans and hormone tests. Pituitary tumors can sometimes return, although it is rare. If your tumor caused vision problems, your eye specialist will continue to monitor your vision.

Need a Second Opinion?

Our pituitary tumor experts will review your diagnostic scans performed elsewhere and contact you to discuss an effective treatment plan. Please call 919-944-4328, and our nurse navigator will help make arrangements for your second opinion.

Why Choose Duke

Collaborative, All-In-One Pituitary Clinic
For your convenience, we offer a special pituitary clinic that allows you to see an endocrinologist, neurosurgeon, and ophthalmologist all in one day and in one location. These experts meet with you to review your test results and offer a same-day recommendation for next steps. 

Highly Experienced Center
People from around the region and across the country travel to Duke for pituitary tumor care. Our center frequently sees -- and successfully treats -- some of the most challenging cases.

Nurse Navigator
Your care will be coordinated by a nurse navigator who can answer your questions and guide you through the treatment process. Whenever possible, you'll be scheduled for office visits, tests, and treatments on the same day. Our goal is to make the most of your time and ensure your care team has the information they need. If you don’t live near Duke but choose to have surgery here, we can coordinate with your local doctors for follow-up care.

Best Hospital for Neurology, Neurosurgery in NC

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our neurology and neurosurgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 05/22/2023 by