Possible Complications of Surgery

Sometimes pituitary surgery has side effects from removing the tumor and working on the pituitary gland. (The gland is usually not removed.)

It is important to remember that side effects from pituitary surgery generally are rare. Often when they do occur, they are treatable or go away as the body heals.

The production of hormones may also be affected by pituitary surgery. These include the hormones that regulate the production of growth hormone, thyroid hormone, cortisol, prolactin, testosterone and estrogens and anti-diuretic hormone, which regulates the kidneys.

A patient's hormone production is monitored before and after pituitary surgery. If too little or none of a hormone is being produced, it can be replaced with pills, shots or gels.

Sometimes a fluid tinged with blood will drain from the nose for two or three weeks after surgery. This is normal and no reason for concern.

If the discharge becomes thick or foul-smelling, a sinus infection may have developed. The neurosurgeon should be informed immediately.

In rare cases, a clear, watery fluid may drain from the nose. This is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Large pituitary tumors lean up against the membrane that separates the space holding the fluid from the nose. If the membrane is missing or opens during surgery, the fluid may leak through the nose. The leak can be repaired by a neurosurgeon. If a repair is needed, a patient will stay in the hospital for about five more days.

In rare cases, other complications involving the nerves, arteries to the brain, infection or other conditions may occur and need to be treated.