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Pituitary brain tumors

Pituitary tumors are growths which arise in the pituitary gland, for reasons unknown. The pituitary gland is a dime-sized structure which sits below the brain about 3 inches behind the eyes. The function of the pituitary is regulation of the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, and the ovaries or testes, by secreting chemicals into the bloodstream. The brain regulates the amounts of these chemicals which the pituitary gland produces. Growths in the pituitary gland are almost always benign, but as they grow they can interfere with the function of other glands either by producing either too many or too few of the chemicals. Also, as they enlarge, pituitary tumors can press on the visual pathways from the eyes to the brain, interfering with vision.

Some pituitary tumors will shrink when treated with medication. Whether pituitary tumors will respond to medication can usually be determined by doing blood tests. If pituitary function is impaired, hormonal replacement (thyroid hormone, cortisol, etc) may be necessary to maintain health. All patients with a pituitary tumor should be evaluated by an endocrinologist.

Knowing whether the tumor is or is not secreting an excess of a chemical is important because it can influence either surgical or radiation treatment technique. Pituitary surgery by a neurosurgeon is the usual method of treating tumors which do not respond to medication, and is always the treatment of choice for large tumors which threaten vision. Gamma Knife is helpful in treating residual or recurrent tumors after surgery. Gamma Knife is also used as primary treatment if the patient's medical status is too frail for conventional surgery. The Gamma Knife is the radiation treatment of choice for tumors which are at least 3 millimeters d distant from the optic nerves and optic chiasm because in one session it provides high intensity radiation with sharper borders than other machines which deliver radiation. When the tumor is closer than 3mm to visual structures, Gamma Knife treatment may require more than one session of treatment.

The content of this web site is for informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider. If you have a medical problem or a health-related question, consult your physician or call our center at 509.473.3800 for an appointment with one of our neurosurgeons.

Gamma Knife: The best solution

Caring with precision

Treating brain tumors and other conditions in the brain requires absolute precision, because every bit of healthy tissue helps make you who you are. And nothing provides more precision than Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery, especially in the hands of a caring, superbly skilled and experienced team of neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists.

In fact, Gamma Knife of Spokane ranks in the top 10 Gamma Knife Centers in the U.S. for published clinical research and patient volumes.

It's YOUR brain. Call us at 1.800.927.5051 and we can help you determine whether Gamma Knife treatment is a helpful option for you.

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