Pituitary tumor or pituitary adenoma is an abnormal growth of cells in the pituitary gland. Surgery is usually the only option to remove such adenomas.
Pituitary gland is a pea shaped organ located at the base of brain, behind sphenoid sinus. It oversees and controls the production of various hormones in the body. Sometimes, a benign growth in the form of tumor may affect the pituitary gland. Benign growths affecting glandular organs are called adenomas.
Although, pituitary adenomas are mostly of noncancerous origin, their removal may become necessary owing to some serious pituitary tumor symptoms. Some of the serious symptoms associated with pituitary adenomas include hormonal imbalance, nerve damage and developmental issues. A pituitary tumor surgery is a less invasive, but a complicated procedure.
Pituitary Tumor Surgery
The difficult to access location of pituitary gland adds to the complexity of this surgery. These days, an endoscopic surgery is performed to remove the pituitary tumor. The surgeon makes an incision either through a patient’s right nostril or gum behind the upper lip. A camera, X-ray and surgical instruments are inserted through this incision. The surgeon monitors the position and size of the tumor through an endoscope. The surgeon also identifies if the tumors secrete hormones or not.
Macroscopic tumors (more than 10 mm) may need to be broken down in pieces, so that they can be easily removed. Sometimes, instead of removing an entire large tumor, surgeons may only remove a part of it, if he/she senses danger to nearby tissues. Microscopic tumors (less than 10 mm) can be easily removed during a single surgery session.
Pituitary Tumor Surgery Recovery Time
This surgery is performed under general anesthesia. It takes about 3 hours for the surgical removal of tumor. The patient is required to stay in the hospital for at least 1-2 days, during which he/she is kept under close medical observation. After gaining consciousness, the patient may feel dizzy, confused and disoriented. The patient may also feel nauseous and may vomit. The feeling of nausea is mostly due to blood from surgery leaking from the back of throat and entering the stomach.
This feeling subsides within a few hours post surgery. During the stay at the hospital, nurses may monitor your urine output, as well as nasal drainage. A snuffer dressing may be taped on your nose to collect drainage. You should avoid blowing your nose under all circumstances. During your stay at the hospital, your doctor will mostly prescribe you with medications such as Tylenol with codeine, morphine or Vicodin to manage pain and discomfort.
A patient is usually encouraged to be on his/her feet as soon as possible. Being active prevents the possibility of formation of blood clots in the legs. During the first few hours of surgery, you may even be asked to wear sequential compression boots for the same reason. Once you feel comfortable, you may start taking liquid diet or softer foods. You may have to wait for a few days to resume eating normal food. People who wear dentures must wait until the incision heals completely, if it has been made through a gum.
Recovery from pituitary tumor surgery is usually a long procedure stretching over months. During this period, your cortisol levels are very low. This may lead to a feeling of low energy, flu like symptoms, pain, body aches etc. As your body gets accustomed to the lower levels of cortisol, you can expect an improvement in these symptoms. You should try to drink as many fluids as you can to prevent dehydration and other discomforts. While recuperating at home, keep a close watch on the quantity of urine you pass.
Pituitary tumor surgery involves certain risks such as infection and damage to neighboring tissues. In rare circumstances, these complications may lead to death of a person. However, the number of such incidences is negligible. Although, the long and painful surgery recovery period can be a test for patients, the surgery is usually a success.