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Preparing for Your Surgery

Before Surgery

Before surgery, you will meet with a rhinologist (a doctor specializing in nasal and sinus surgery).

The rhinologist will take a special computed tomography (CT) scan of the tumor. This scan creates a detailed image of your sinuses. It helps us understand your individual anatomy and uses computer-guided navigation to identify the tumor's exact location.

How to Prepare

Before the procedure, your surgeon will ask you to stop taking certain medications, including:

  • anticoagulants, such as warfarin,
  • antiplatelets, such as aspirin,
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen,
  • oral diabetes medications,
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and
  • angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).

If needed, your surgical team may also refer you to the high-risk anesthesia clinic. Older adults and those with conditions that increase anesthesia risks, such as obstructive sleep apnea or heart disease, may be candidates for the clinic. Our specialists in the clinic create anesthesia plans to minimize risk as much as possible during surgery.

You’ll need to stop eating or drinking by midnight on the day of surgery. You may take your regular, approved medications with a small sip of water on the morning of surgery.

Pituitary Tumor Surgery Recovery

After surgery, you’ll need to avoid blowing your nose to reduce pressure on your nasal and sinus area. You’ll also need to avoid sneezing as much as you can or sneeze with your mouth open. After surgery, you can continue to increase your activity level slowly. Most patients resume strenuous activities about a month after surgery. 

Pituitary Tumor Surgery Recovery Surgery Time

It typically takes approximately one month to recover from surgery.

Follow-Up Appointments

About a week after surgery, you will have a follow-up appointment with your surgical team. Your provider will run tests to evaluate your sodium (salt) levels and check for diabetes insipidus (a salt-water imbalance that causes frequent urination or increased thirst). The team may also order tests to check your hormone levels.

After one to three months, you’ll have a brain MRI to ensure you’re healing properly. We will order blood tests to check your pituitary hormones six to 12 weeks after surgery.

Pituitary Tumor Surgery Side Effects

If you had transsphenoidal pituitary surgery, you’ll likely have a headache and stuffiness (nasal congestion) for about a week.

You may also have a salt-water imbalance, or temporary diabetes insipidus. You may feel very thirsty or need to urinate often. This side effect usually goes away in a few weeks.

Will I Get My Vision Back after Removing a Pituitary Tumor?

If a pituitary tumor affected your vision before surgery, removing the tumor could improve your vision. About two in three patients see improvements in their vision after surgery. It may take several months to notice vision improvements.

Personality Changes after Pituitary Surgery

If you had a pituitary tumor that affected hormone production, you might have had personality changes or symptoms that affected your mood and energy. Often, removing the tumor leads to an improvement in those symptoms.

Weight Loss after Pituitary Surgery

Tumors that release growth hormones can cause unwanted weight gain or loss. Many people experience weight stabilization after pituitary gland surgery. You may also see an improvement in conditions related to weight, such as:

  • high blood pressure (hypertension),
  • type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or
  • sleep apnea.

Pituitary Tumor Surgery Complications and Risks

Pituitary tumor surgery generally has low complication rates. Rare but serious complications associated with pituitary tumor surgery include:

  • hormonal changes,
  • visual impairment,
  • stroke, or
  • cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.

CSF is the substance that surrounds and cushions your brain and spinal cord. If you have a CSF leak during surgery, it’s possible to repair it during the same operation.

Pituitary Tumor Surgery Success Rate

The success rates for pituitary tumor removal are typically excellent. More than eight out of 10 times, we can remove the entire tumor. Your surgeon will explain how the individual features of the tumor can affect removal.

Sometimes, a tumor will make (secrete) hormones, which can change functions such as your metabolism or immune system. If your physician finds a hormone-secreting tumor, you may need additional testing after surgery to determine if your hormones have normalized.

Do Pituitary Tumors Grow Back After Surgery?

Pituitary tumors don’t usually grow back. In rare cases, a tumor may grow back decades after removal. You will need follow-up imaging scans spaced out over time for the rest of your life.

Find a Specialist

Next Steps

If you believe you need an evaluation for a pituitary tumor, you can make an appointment with one of our skull base tumor specialists.

No doctor referral is necessary to come visit us, but please check with your insurance first as some insurance companies require referrals.

Get a Consultation

Not located in Utah? You can contact us for a consultation. Once we have scheduled the call, we will set up a phone call to discuss your diagnosis with you. We will also ask you to send us:

  1. Copy of the CD of your MRI images,
  2. Copy of your vision test, and
  3. Any other testing you may have had (endocrinology or other).

Hear From Our Specialists

Pituitary Tumors: Your Questions Answered

Contact the Destination Care Program

The Destination Care Program is an initiative by U of U Health focusing on care for our out-of-state patients. We are here to help you find the services and information you need. Feel free to contact us:
Phone: 801-587-6365