[Pituitary pathology in elderly patients admitted in a division of internal medicine. Description of 3 cases].Recenti Prog Med. 2000 Dec; 91(12):636-40.RP
Pituitary diseases are often unrecognized in the elderly, although if they can be at the basis of several pathological conditions. We report three clinical cases. Patient n. 1: 87 years old woman, in poor general condition. Thyroid function evaluation showed secondary hypothyroidism. Subsequent pituitary function evaluation demonstrated hypopituitarism with empty sella. The diagnosis was "hypopituitarism with secondary hypothyroidism and adrenocortical insufficiency, in empty sella" starting substitutive treatment with glucocorticoids and L-thyroxine, with improvement in her clinical conditions. Patient n. 2: 74 years old woman, with severe congestive heart failure. Her clinical history revealed hypothyroidism. An endocrine evaluation (in absence of therapy) demonstrated panhypopituitarism with secondary hypothyroidism and adrenocortical insufficiency in presence of empty sella. The patients was started on substitutive treatment and her conditions improved. Patient n. 3: 74 years old man with several atrial fibrillation episodes and hyperthyroidism. Thyroid function evaluation suggested secondary hyperthyroidism confirmed by the presence of a pituitary macroadenoma. The patient underwent surgical adenomectomy by trans-sphenoidal route. The clinical conditions of the patient improved, but a slight secondary hyperthyroidism was still present caused by the persistence of residual pathological tissue in the right cavernous sinus region confirmed by octreoscan suggesting the presence of a lesion endowed with somatostatin receptors. The patient was started on long acting octreotide treatment, which is still in progress. In conclusion, pituitary diseases pass often unrecognized in the elderly. Their prompt recognition and treatment can resolve dangerous situations for the patients.