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Pituitary Microadenomas Follow-up

  • Author: Bernard Corenblum, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
Updated: Jul 25, 2016

Further Outpatient Care

The natural history for nonfunctioning microadenomas appears to be benign.[7, 8] Follow-up MRI scans can be performed at 12 months to assess progression, but generally they are not needed for most microadenomas, For nonsecreting adenomas, follow-up is usually not needed unless clinical symptoms arise. If the tumor enlarges, full endocrine testing and therapy are justified.


Inpatient & Outpatient Medications

If the tumor is secreting excess hormone, initiate appropriate medical therapy as described in the articles Hyperprolactinemia, Acromegaly, and Cushing disease.



Complications are caused by the rare enlargement of the tumor to a macroadenoma or by excessive hormone secretion.

Inactive microadenomas rarely cause complications unless they are pressing on the pituitary stalk.



Prognosis depends on the hormonal activity of the adenoma.[6] Most incidentalomas are inactive and do not cause morbidity, except morbidity related to excessive investigation. Patient anxiety may result from the discovery of the microadenoma, and appropriate support may be needed. A meta-analysis showed that microadenomas rarely enlarge (3.3 per 100 patient-years [95% confidence interval, 2.1-4.5]).[1]


Patient Education

The patient must be informed of the frequency of incidentalomas and the benign nature of those that do not enlarge or secrete excess hormone.

For excellent patient education resources, visit eMedicineHealth's Women's Health Center and Men's Health Center. Also, see eMedicineHealth's patient education articles Amenorrhea and Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction.

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.

Specialty Editor Board

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

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

George T Griffing, MD Professor Emeritus of Medicine, St Louis University School of Medicine

George T Griffing, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Society for Clinical Densitometry, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation, American College of Medical Practice Executives, American Association for Physician Leadership, American College of Physicians, American Diabetes Association, American Federation for Medical Research, American Heart Association, Central Society for Clinical and Translational Research, Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


David M Klachko, MD, MEd Professor Emeritus, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine

David M Klachko, MD, MEd is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Diabetes Association, American Federation for Medical Research, Missouri State Medical Association, Sigma Xi, and The Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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MRI showing a nonenhancing area in the pituitary consistent with a microadenoma in a patient with hyperprolactinemia.
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