Research Article

Development of pituitary adenoma in women with hyperprolactinaemia: clinical, endocrine, and radiological characteristics.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 18 February 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:515
  1. A E Pontiroli,
  2. L Falsetti


    Sixty eight women referred for treatment of hyperprolactinaemia entered a three year follow up study to determine the clinical and endocrine course of the disease and its association with microadenoma of the pituitary. Details recorded before treatment included medical history, gonadotrophin and ovarian hormonal concentrations, and release of prolactin in response to protirelin (thyrotrophin releasing hormone), benserazide, cimetidine, and nomifensine. Sellar tomography was then performed yearly for three years in all women, 54 of them also undergoing computed coronal and sagittal tomography. At baseline evaluation 27 women showed radiological evidence of pituitary adenoma; at the end of the follow up period the number had increased to 41. Amenorrhoea, steady and raised serum prolactin concentrations, a low ratio of luteinising hormone to follicle stimulating hormone, a longer duration of disease, and low serum progesterone concentrations were more common in women with a final diagnosis of pituitary adenoma than in those whose sella remained normal. Tests for release of prolactin had yielded abnormal results from the outset in all 41 women with radiological evidence of pituitary adenoma and in about half of those whose sella had remained radiologically normal. Response to medical treatment (metergoline in 20 patients, bromocriptine in 21) was similar and showed no difference between patients with tumorous and non-tumorous hyperprolactinaemia. These findings suggest that a large proportion of women with hyperprolactinaemia may harbour a prolactin secreting pituitary adenoma which becomes apparent over a relatively short period. Amenorrhoea and steady and raised serum prolactin concentrations are more common in these women. Tests for release of prolactin are of predictive value in identifying women who will develop a pituitary adenoma.