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Symptoms at presentation in conservatively managed patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas



Hypopituitarism and tumor growth are rare in patients with non-functioning pituitary microadenomas (NFPmA). However, patients often present with non-specific symptoms. The aim of this brief report is to examine presenting symptomatology in patients with NFPmA compared to patients with non-functioning pituitary macroadenomas (NFPMA).


We performed a retrospective review of 400 patients (347 NFPmA and 53 NFPMA) who were conservatively managed; no patients had indications for urgent surgical intervention.


Average tumor size was 4.5 ± 1.9 and 15.5 ± 5.5 mm for NFPmA and NFPMA, respectively (p < 0.001). At least one pituitary deficiency was present in 7.5% of patients with NFPmA and 25% of patients with NFPMA. Patients with NFPmA were younger (41.6 ± 15.3 vs. 54.4 ± 22.3 years, p < 0.001) and more commonly female (64.6 vs. 49.1%, p = 0.028). There was no significant difference reported for similarly high rates of fatigue (78.4% and 73.6%), headache (70% and 67.9%), and blurry vision (46.7% and 39.6%). There were no significant differences in comorbidities.


Despite smaller size and lower rate of hypopituitarism, patients with NFPmA presented with a high prevalence of headache, fatigue, and visual symptoms. This was not significantly different from patients with NFPMA who were conservatively managed. We conclude that symptoms of NFPmA cannot fully be attributed to pituitary dysfunction or mass effect.

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Correspondence to Elena V. Varlamov.

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This is a non-interventional retrospective review of medical chart records. All study protocols were approved by the Oregon Health and Science University Institutional Review Board (IRB; IRB00003480).

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The study protocol has a waiver of consent as determined by the Oregon Health and Science University Institutional Review Board, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.

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Han, A.J., Fleseriu, M. & Varlamov, E.V. Symptoms at presentation in conservatively managed patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas. Hormones (2023).

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  • Nonfunctioning
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Symptoms
  • Comorbidities
  • Natural history
  • Observation