Pituitary Gland - The Body's Master Gland
Although it is only the size of a pea, the pituitary gland is a remarkably important part of the endocrine system in humans. Indeed, many diseases and conditions can be traced back to a malfunctioning or otherwise compromised pituitary gland. We know that the pituitary gland secretes or releases a variety of different hormones that help manage your body’s systems and functions.
Sometimes referred to as the "master gland" because its hormones control other parts of the endocrine system including the thyroid, adrenal, and ovaries, the pituitary gland is actually signaled into action by the hypothalamus.
In fact the pituitary and the hypothalamus are connected by the “pituitary stalk” (infundibulum), and their function is closely intertwined. An example of the role of the pituitary can be found in its production and release of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce its own hormones. The pituitary gland protrudes from the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. Its importance is suggested by the fact that it rests in a small, bony cavity, which is covered by a dural fold.
There are technically three lobes in the pituitary gland, however in humans the intermediate lobe is only a few layers thick and indistinct. It is usually considered to be a part of the anterior pituitary. Accordingly, you will almost always hear the parts of the gland referred to as the posterior (rear, or back), and anterior (front) lobes.
In neurosurgery, we are most often concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary tumors and/or pituitary adenomas and microadenomas. Pituitary tumors and adenomas are the most common pituitary disorder, however they are in most cases not life-threatening.
Symptoms of pituitary problems may include:
- vision problems
- menstrual or breast changes
- unexplained hair growth or loss
The pituitary gland plays an important role in regulation of body processes including:
- Blood Pressure
- Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Breast Milk Production
- Sexual Organ Function
- Thyroid Gland Function
- Body Temperature
- Pain Relief
DVBSS offers expert diagnosis and treatment of pituitary adenomas. Dr. Tormenti has advanced training in the treatment of pituitary adenomas. If you are seeking treatment, please contact one of our campuses for further information.