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Hypopituitarism (Panhypopituitarism) Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Bernard Corenblum, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
Updated: Jul 11, 2016


Presentation varies from asymptomatic to acute collapse, depending on the etiology, rapidity of onset, and predominant hormones involved. Initially, a patient with any hormone deficiency may be asymptomatic. Individuals with the following deficiencies present with the indicated condition:

  • ACTH deficiency - Adrenal (cortisol) insufficiency
  • TSH deficiency - Hypothyroidism
  • Gonadotropin deficiency -Hypogonadism
  • GH deficiency - Failure to thrive and short stature in children; most adults are asymptomatic, but some may experience fatigue and weakness and decreased quality of life
  • ADH deficiency - Polyuria and polydipsia

Other presenting features may be attributable to the underlying cause. A patient with a space-occupying lesion may present with headaches, double-vision, or visual-field deficits. A patient with large lesions involving the hypothalamus may present with polydipsia/polyuria or, rarely, syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone (SIADH).


Physical Examination

Physical examination findings may be normal in subtle presentations. Patients may present with features attributable to deficiency of target hormones, including hypothyroidism (with a small, soft thyroid gland), adrenal insufficiency, hypogonadism (with small, soft testes in men), and failure to thrive.

In the stable patient, with the diverse complaints associated with hypopituitarism, a complete physical examination, including thyroid palpation, genital inspection, and ophthalmic examination, can support the diagnosis of hypopituitarism. During the neurologic and ophthalmic examinations, check specifically for visual acuity, extraocular movements, and bitemporal hemianopsia. Also look for evidence of hormonal hypersecretion due to a large functioning adenoma, such as signs of Cushing disease, acromegaly, or galactorrhea.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Bernard Corenblum, MD, FRCPC Professor of Medicine, Director, Endocrine-Metabolic Testing and Treatment Unit, Ovulation Induction Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Canada

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


James R Mulinda, MD, FACP Consulting Staff, Department of Endocrinology, Endocrinology Associates, Inc

James R Mulinda, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP Professor of Endocrinology, Director of Training Program, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Strelitz Diabetes and Endocrine Disorders Institute, Department of Internal Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American College of Physicians, American Diabetes Association, Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


David S Schade, MD Chief, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine and Health Sciences Center

David S Schade, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Diabetes Association, American Federation for Medical Research, Endocrine Society, New Mexico Medical Society, New York Academy of Sciences, and Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Don S Schalch, MD Professor Emeritus, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics

Don S Schalch, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Diabetes Association, American Federation for Medical Research, Central Society for Clinical Research, and Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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