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Panhypopituitarism is a rare congenital problem. Pituitary insufficiency is usually seen later in life as a consequence of pituitary gland destruction caused by an enlarging macroadenoma, or surgical or radiation treatment of an adenoma pituitary insufficiency, hypopituitaryism, pitutary. Microadenomas, on the other hand, rarely cause significant pituitary destruction, but can result in overproduction of selected anterior pituitary hormones, especially prolactin. Also, individuals may develop pituitary insufficiency after ischemia, as seen in shock and birth asphyxia. Rarer causes of pituitary insufficiency include infiltrative diseases, such as

Congenital hypopituitarism should be suspected in newborns with unrelenting jaundice or unexplained hypoglycemia. The cause of hyperbilirubinemia remains controversial. Hypoglycemia develops because of 

Frequent bottle feedings may mask the hypoglycemia, a situation that may happen in nurseries. As feeding frequency decreases or while the maternal milk supply is establishing itself, newborns can develop prolonged and severe hypoglycemia. Another finding of congenital panhypopituitarism is micropenis because gonadotropins are required for proper development of 

Causes of Pituitary Insufficiency


Congenital absence of the pituitary (empty sella syndrome)

Genetic disorders (often associated with other endocrine deficiencies)

Craniofacial tumors

Perinatal ischemia


Pituitary adenomas

Surgery or radiation therapy for pituitary

abnormality Ischemia or shock and pituitary necrosis

(Sheehan's syndrome)



Granulomatous diseases

Features of Pituitary Insufficiency

Hormone deficiency Signs and symptoms/laboratory findings

Corticotropin Acute deficiency: fatigue, weakness,

nausea, vomiting, hypotension

Chronic deficiency: fatigue, pallor,

weight loss

Children: growth retardation

Laboratory findings: hyponatremia,


Thyroid-stimulating Adults: weight gain, fatigue, depression,

hormone mental status changes, dry skin, hair loss

Children: growth retardation, delayed

intellectual development, mental

retardation if untreated

Laboratory finding: hyponatremia

Gonadotropins Women: amenorrhea, infertility,

anovulation, loss of libido,

osteoporosis, premature atherosclerosis

Men: loss of libido, impaired sexual

function, decreased muscle mass,

hair growth

Children: micropenis, delayed puberty

Growth hormone Adults: decreased muscle mass and

strength, central obesity, fatigue,

premature atherosclerosis

Children: growth retardation

Laboratory finding: hypoglycemia

Prolactin None

Melanocyte-stimulating None

Treatment of pituitary insufficiency focuses on replacing hormones affecting the target organs of pituitary hormones, rather than the missing pituitary hormones. The most crucial hormones that must be replaced are the corticosteroids and

In most individuals, cortisol is dosed three times per day, with half the daily dose given in the morning and the remaining half split into afternoon and evening doses. This schedule produces a more physiologic response, with a morning peak and a lower, more

Hormone Therapy for Pituitary Insufficiency

Deficiency Replacement recommendations

Corticotropin Adults: cortisone acetate (25.0 mg in a.m. and 12.5 mg in p.m.) or

prednisone (4.0 to 7.5 mg per day) or hydrocortisone (20 mg in a.m. and

I 0 mg in p.m.) or dexamethasone (Decadron®, Hexadrol®) (0.25 to 0.5

mg per day)

Children: cortisone acetate or hydrocortisone, 0.5 to 0.75 mg per kg per

day given as two or three divided doses

Crises: hydrocortisone, 100 to150 mg per day in adults and 30 to 60 mg

per m~ per day in children

Thyroid stimulating hormone Adults: thyroxine (I 00 to 150 mcg per day, start at 25 to 50 mcg per day

in patients with risk of ischemic heart disease and increase slowly over

six to eight weeks); adjust according to free T3 or free T4 levels

Children: thyroxine (8 to I 0 mcg per kg per day); adjust according to

free T3 or free T4 levels assessed every three months

Gonadotropins (FSH/LH) Premenopausal women:

No fertility desired: cyclic estrogen/progesterone as in oral contraceptives

Fertility desired: cyclic human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) with

human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to induce ovulation

Postmenopausal women: estrogen, e.g., conjugated estrogen

(0.625 mg per day) with medroxyprogesterone (5 mg per day),

(Premphase®, Prempro®) for women with an intact uterus

Men: testosterone injection, 250 mg every three weeks, or implantable

testosterone pellets (Androderm®, Testoderm®), 600 to 800 mg

every four to five months

Growth hormone Adults: weekly maintenance dose of 0.04 to 0.08 mg per kg subcutaneously

(start with lower weekly dose of 0.02 mg per kg and increase weekly)

Children: daily administration of 0. I international units per kg or 0.2 to

0.3 mg per kg per dose, adjusted every three months for changes in weight

Prolactin No replacement recommended

Melanocyte-stimulating hormone No replacement recommended


In children, growth hormone is required to attain normal height. Without growth hormone replacement, most children in this category show only minimal interval growth and then quickly fall below the 10th percentile for their age. Growth hormone is

Growth hormone replacement should be considered when growth drops below the 10th percentile for age. As the child grows, the dosage is adjusted by weight and does not have to be changed because of puberty. Replacement therapy is stopped when

Maintenance therapy can begin with a weekly dose of 0.125 IU per kg for one month followed by an increase to 0.25 IU per kg per week. Some endocrinologists prefer to start with daily injections of 0.0125 IU per kg with gradual increases of 0.0125 IU per kg per day every two to three weeks until a steady-state dose is achieved. At that point, either daily dosing can continue or


There are two strategies for replacement therapy for patients with gonadotropin deficiency. For continued sexual development and menstrual function, replacement of estrogen or testosterone is usually necessary. To initiate puberty, estrogen or testosterone is administered beginning at ages 12 to 14. In girls and premenopausal women, replacement can be achieved with a combination oral contraceptive pill containing 20 to 35 mcg of estrogen. In males, testosterone proprionate is given as a 200-mg intramuscular injection every two weeks. Transdermal testosterone patches (Androderm, Testoderm) may also be

If women desire fertility, gonadotropins are administered either as human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) or human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) used in