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Treatment of gonadotroph and other clinically nonfunctioning adenomas

Peter J Snyder, MD
Section Editor
David S Cooper, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Martin, MD


Gonadotroph adenomas are the most common pituitary macroadenomas, comprising approximately 80 percent of clinically nonfunctioning adenomas. These adenomas are difficult to identify because their secretory products usually do not cause a recognizable clinical syndrome and because they often secrete so inefficiently that serum concentrations of intact gonadotropins and their subunits are often only minimally abnormal or not abnormal at all. Consequently, they are typically not detected until they become sufficiently large to cause neurologic symptoms, most often impaired vision due to pressure on the optic chiasm. Clinically nonfunctioning or "silent" somatotroph and corticotroph adenomas are also being identified with increasing frequency.

The treatment of gonadotroph and other clinically nonfunctioning adenomas will be reviewed here. Their clinical manifestations and diagnosis are discussed separately. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of gonadotroph and other clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas".)


Overview — Gonadotroph or other nonfunctioning macroadenomas are typically diagnosed when they become large enough to cause neurologic symptoms (eg, headaches, visual loss), a hormonal deficiency state, when an imaging study is performed for unrelated reasons, or, less commonly, because of hormonal hypersecretion.

Once identified, treatment (transsphenoidal surgery) should be promptly instituted for those with impaired vision and considered for those at high risk for loss of vision (marked suprasellar tumor extension).

For patients who have suprasellar extension but do not have neurologic symptoms, we discuss the risks of surgery versus the risks of waiting. For example, an adenoma that is markedly elevating the optic chiasm is very likely to begin to cause visual abnormalities in the next few years, yet some patients will choose to wait until that occurs. Gonadotroph adenomas that are asymptomatic and not an immediate threat to vision may not require immediate surgery. (See 'Asymptomatic adenomas' below.)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 27, 2017.
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