Pituitary apoplexy occurs as a very rare complication of the pituitary function test. We have experienced two cases of pituitary apoplexy following anterior pituitary function tests for preoperative assessment: a triple bolus test and a TRH test. To elucidate such a rare complication, we outline our two cases and review 28 cases from the literature. The clinical characteristics, etiology, pathophysiology, and diagnostic and therapeutic implications are also discussed. The combined data suggest that pituitary function tests have the potential to precipitate pituitary apoplexy, and its manifestations range from a clinically benign event to a catastrophic presentation with permanent neurological deficits or even death, although most patients may fortunately have a good outcome. We suggest that the pituitary function test should not be done as a routine test, and when such a test is planned, the patient should be observed with caution for any symptomatic changes for at least 2 hours following the test for appropriate treatment. Further, MRI, especially enhanced studies, may provide an earlier diagnosis of the pituitary apoplexy since CT scan images often fail to demonstrate either density changes or obvious enlargement of the pituitary adenoma at the acute stage.
Keywords: Pituitary adenoma; pituitary apoplexy; pituitary function test; MRI; TRH.
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