SynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyDrug Reaction DataReferences
Pituitary tumor
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Pituitary tumor

Contributors: Andrea Wasilewski MD, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


A pituitary tumor is an abnormal mass in the pituitary gland (the primary hormone-producing gland located at the base of the brain, directly above the soft palate). Benign pituitary adenomas are the most common pituitary tumor. Microadenomas are less than 1 cm, and macroadenomas are larger than 1 cm. Macroadenomas cause more severe findings since they increase pressure on the surrounding areas, particularly on the optic nerve. Malignant pituitary carcinomas rarely develop. Pituitary germinomas are rare; affected males may have gynecomastia. Craniopharyngiomas arise from the remnants of Rathke pouch and occur more commonly in children and young adults. Rathke pouch may develop into benign cysts, which may be symptomatic. Metastatic tumors to the pituitary gland are rare but have been reported.

Endocrine disorders such as hyperprolactinemia commonly occur, producing symptoms such as galactorrhea, menstrual changes, infertility, and sexual dysfunction. Other common presenting symptoms include headaches and visual changes (bitemporal visual field deficit, blurry vision, and/or diplopia). Many affected patients remain asymptomatic, and tumors are found on imaging obtained for other reasons.

A rare complication of untreated pituitary adenomas is pituitary apoplexy.


D35.2 – Benign neoplasm of pituitary gland

127024001 – Neoplasm of pituitary gland

Look For

Subscription Required

Diagnostic Pearls

Subscription Required

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Pituitary hyperplasia
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Germinoma
  • Meningioma
  • Pituicytoma
  • Chordoma
  • Primary Lymphoma
  • Pituitary cyst
  • Pituitary abscess
  • Hypophysitis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Histiocytosis
  • Malignant teratoma
  • Optic nerve glioma

Best Tests

Subscription Required

Management Pearls

Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Last Reviewed:11/04/2018
Last Updated:11/30/2023
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Pituitary tumor
A medical illustration showing key findings of Pituitary tumor : Seizures, Headache, Diplopia, Gaze paralysis, Rhinorrhea, Hyperprolactinemia
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.