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Non-functioning tumors - Clinical Evaluation

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Patients suspected of having a nonfunctioning pituitary tumor should have a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of the pituitary gland. An MRI provides the best visualization of the tumor size, location, extent, and relationship to important surrounding structures, and is essential to adequately plan surgery and to monitor treatment.

If the tumor seen on MRI is next to or distorts the optic chiasm, a formal assessment of vision should be performed by an ophthalmologist. This includes visual field measurements to assess damage to the optic chiasm and careful inspection of the optic discs. Visual field measurements can also be helpful in the follow-up of these tumors, since they can be more sensitive to minor changes in tumor size than the MRI.

In addition to the above tests done to assess tumor anatomy, patients with pituitary tumors should be evaluated for pituitary hormone deficiency by an experienced endocrinologist. The types of laboratory tests done for this evaluation will depend on the specific clinical findings, tumor characteristics, and treatment plans. The evaluation usually includes a measure of thyroid function, reproductive hormones, adrenal function, and growth hormone.