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Panhypopituitarism

Posted by on Friday, 16 April, 2010

What is panhypopituitarism?


Hypopituitarism refers to a deficiency of one or more of the hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. Panhypopituitarism refers to an absence of all hormones released by the pituitary gland.

Pituitary insufficiency in the adult is most commonly caused by a nonfunctioning tumor, surgical removal or irradiation of the pituitary gland.
What are the symptoms? 
The lack of pituitary hormones results in a reduction in the hormones released by the target glands (i.e. thyroid, adrenals and gonads). When hypo- or pan- hypopituitarism results from inherent disease or irradiation, symptoms develop gradually. After surgery, symptoms of adrenal sufficiency can develop within days, and hypothyroidism after only a month.

In panhypopituitarism facial and body hair decrease and reproductive organs and muscle tissue shrivel. There can be loss of libido, impotency, amennorhea, and infertility. Hypoglycemia may occur due to a deficiency of growth hormone. There is also a loss of normal skin pigmentation, which can become pale and waxy in appearance. Wrinkles may develop around the eyes and mouth making the person appear older than normal. When pituitary deficiency is severe there is extreme weight loss, emaciation, with eventual coma, and if untreated, death.

How is it treated? 
Because pituitary hormones are destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract, treatment of hypopituitarism involves replacement of the deficient hormones of the target organs. Additionally, within the last five years the FDA approved growth hormone for treatment in those with panhypopituitarism. Growth hormone is self-administered by injection, subcutaneously, on a daily basis.