How do doctors test for and diagnose pituitary tumors?

The endocrinologist (hormone doctor) will go over your child’s medical history and do a physical exam. He may also do one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Vision tests
  • X-rays
  • Other imaging tests (usually an MRI)
  • Biopsy (looking at a sample of the tumor)

How do doctors treat pituitary tumors?

Treatment depends on the size and type of your child’s tumor. Sometimes no treatment is needed. The endocrinologist will talk with you about the best treatment for your child.

If your child does need treatment, it is best to start early. Pituitary tumors and symptoms get better faster and easier with early treatment.

Some treatments include:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Radiation that targets the pituitary tumor
  • Chemotherapy

What is the outcome for children with pituitary tumors?

Your child’s outcome depends on the size, type and location of the tumor. Most tumors get better with early treatment and most have a very good outcome. Your doctor will talk to you about the typical outcome for your child’s kind of tumor.

What are the different types of pituitary tumor surgery?

Transsphenoidal tumor resection is a procedure in which the surgeon extracts the tumor through the nose. In endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery, an instrument called an endoscope is inserted through the nose and allows the neurosurgeon to see a high-resolution image of the tumor. The surgery is called "transsphenoidal" because the surgeon accesses the pituitary gland by going through the sphenoid sinus (located underneath the pituitary gland).

A minimally invasive craniotomy may be necessary if the pituitary tumor cannot be properly accessed with a transsphenoidal approach. A craniotomy is performed by making a small incision in the skull in order to access the skull-base. This type of pituitary surgery is much less common than endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery.

Rev. 9/2019. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.