Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 37, Issue 9, pp 789–797 | Cite as

Pituitary apoplexy during pregnancy: a rare, but dangerous headache

  • E. PiantanidaEmail author
  • D. Gallo
  • V. Lombardi
  • M. L. Tanda
  • A. Lai
  • F. Ghezzi
  • R. Minotto
  • A. Tabano
  • M. Cerati
  • C. Azzolini
  • S. Balbi
  • F. Baruzzi
  • F. Sessa
  • L. Bartalena
Short Review


Pituitary apoplexy is a rare endocrine emergency that occurs in a small number of patients with a pituitary tumor. It is a clinical syndrome characterized by the sudden onset of headache, nausea, vomiting, visual impairment, and decreased consciousness, caused by hemorrhage and/or infarction of the pituitary gland. Pituitary apoplexy has very rarely been described during pregnancy, when it is potentially life-threatening to both the mother and the fetus, if unrecognized. Only a few cases have been published to date. The review of the existing literature underlines that pituitary apoplexy, although rare, should be borne in mind when a pregnant woman presents with severe headache and visual defects of sudden onset. After initial management, which includes intravenous glucocorticoid therapy, fluid and electrolyte replacement, the final selection of medical or surgical treatment should result from a multidisciplinary approach involving expert specialists, keeping into account both severity of clinical presentation and gestational week.


Pituitary apoplexy Pregnancy Sudden headache Hypopituitarism Pituitary adenoma 


Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Piantanida
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Gallo
    • 1
  • V. Lombardi
    • 1
  • M. L. Tanda
    • 1
  • A. Lai
    • 1
  • F. Ghezzi
    • 2
  • R. Minotto
    • 3
  • A. Tabano
    • 4
  • M. Cerati
    • 5
  • C. Azzolini
    • 6
  • S. Balbi
    • 4
  • F. Baruzzi
    • 3
  • F. Sessa
    • 5
  • L. Bartalena
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Endocrinology, Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of Insubria, Endocrine UnitVareseItaly
  2. 2.Section of Gynecology, Department of Surgical and Morphological SciencesUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly
  3. 3.Neuroradiology UnitVareseItaly
  4. 4.Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgical and Morphological SciencesUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly
  5. 5.Section of Pathology, Department of Surgical and Morphological SciencesUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly
  6. 6.Section of Ophthalmology, Department of Surgical and Morphological SciencesUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly

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