Pituitary and adrenal disorders complicating pregnancy

Edwin Chandraharan, Sabaratnam Arulkumaran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of review: Confidential enquiries of maternal deaths in the UK for 1997-1999 revealed that the number of indirect deaths from medical conditions exacerbated by pregnancy was greater than deaths from conditions directly caused by pregnancy. Indirect maternal deaths accounted for 36% of all deaths. Although neoplastic disorders of the pituitary and adrenal glands are very rare during pregnancy, they can be potentially fatal. The rarity of these disorders may pose difficulty in formulating an optimum plan of management. Biochemical tests that can be performed in the non-pregnant state may be of little value during pregnancy. The presence of a fetus may also influence the type and timing of intervention. Recent findings: A few case reports have been reported in the literature, but unfortunately no large series to develop guidelines or protocols. However, endoscopic surgical procedures have recently been used in their management with good outcomes. New drugs such as octreotide and lanreotide are increasingly being used during pregnancy. Although too soon to assess the safety of these new treatments, results so far have been very encouraging. Summary: Awareness of these potentially fatal neoplastic disorders of the pituitary and adrenal glands, coupled with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, may help improve maternal and fetal outcomes. Advances in imaging techniques and endoscopic procedures are also likely to change clinical practice. Various new treatment options are being reported in the literature, but they are not supported by randomized, controlled trials. Further research is needed to determine their safety and efficacy during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • Acromegaly
  • Carney complex
  • Cushing's disease
  • Phaeochromocytoma
  • Pituitary adenoma


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