The Prevalence and Natural History of Pituitary Hemorrhage in Prolactinoma

K. N. Sarwar, M. S. B. Huda, V. Van de Velde, L. Hopkins, S. Luck, R. Preston, Barbara McGowan, Paul Carroll, Jake Powrie

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    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Context: Incidental pituitary hemorrhage, without full pituitary apoplexy, is a recognized radiological finding, but little information exists on its clinical behavior, with most reports describing surgically treated macroprolactinoma or nonfunctioning adenoma.

    Objective: Our aim was to characterize the prevalence, natural history, and risk factors associated with pituitary hemorrhage in a large clinic prolactinoma population.

    Design: The design consisted of a retrospective analysis of a clinic population.

    Setting: The setting was a tertiary endocrine center in a large teaching hospital.

    Patients: We studied three hundred sixty-eight patients with prolactinoma. The presence of hemorrhage was documented on magnetic resonance imaging. Mainoutcome measure: The main outcome measures were the prevalence, risk factors, andnatural history of pituitary hemorrhage.

    Results: Pituitary hemorrhage was found in 25 patients, giving an overall prevalence of 6.8%, and was significantly higher in macroprolactinoma (20.3%) compared to microprolactinoma (3.1%, P <.0001). Three patients had classical pituitary apoplexy. The majority of patients in the hemorrhage group had macroprolactinomas (16/25 [64%]) and were women (22/25 [88%]). The proportion of womenwith macroprolactinoma was higher in the hemorrhage group (14/16 macroprolactinomas [87.5%]) than in the nonhemorrhage group (36/63 macroprolactinomas [57.1%], P = .02). The majority of pituitary hemorrhages (92%) were treated conservatively with dopamine agonist therapy for hyperprolactinemia. Eighty-seven percent of patients had complete resolution of their hemorrhage within 26.6 +/- 23.3 (mean +/- SD) months. The presence of macroprolactinoma (odds ratio 9.00 [95% CI 3.79-23.88], P <.001) and being female (odds ratio 8.03 [95% confidence interval 1.22-52.95], P = .03) were independently associated with hemorrhage.

    Conclusions: These data show that incidental hemorrhage in prolactinoma is not uncommon. It is more likely to occur in macroprolactinoma, where 1 in 5 develop hemorrhage, and is particularly common in women with macroprolactinoma. The majority are asymptomatic and resolve spontaneously.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2362-2367
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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