Hypopituitarism

  1. General information
    1. Hypofunction of the anterior pituitary gland resulting in deficiencies of both the hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and those secreted by the target glands
    2. May be caused by tumor, trauma, surgical removal, or irradiation of the gland; or may be congenital (See Pituitary Dwarfism, in Unit 5)
  2. Medical management: specific treatment depends on cause
    1. Tumor: surgical removal or irradiation of the gland
    2. Regardless of cause, treatment will include replacement of deficient hormones: e.g., cortico-steroids, thyroid hormone, sex hormones, gonadotropins (may be used to restore fertility).
  3. Assessment findings
    1. Tumor: bitemporal hemianopia, headache
    2. Varying signs of hormonal disturbances depending on which hormones are being undersecreted (e.g., menstrual dysfunction, hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency)
    3. Retardation of growth if condition occurs before epiphyseal closure
    4. Diagnostic tests
      1. Skull x-ray, CT scan may reveal pituitary tumor
      2. Plasma hormone levels may be decreased depending on specific hormones undersecreted
  4. Nursing interventions
    1. Provide care for the client undergoing hypophysectomy or radiation therapy if indicated.
    2. Provide client teaching and discharge planning concerning
      1. Hormone replacement therapy
      2. Importance of follow-up care

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