Pituitary Tumors: Diagnosis and Treatment at the Pituitary and Skull Base Tumor Center

Pictured: Viviane Tabar & Lystra Swift Pituitary and Skull Base Tumor Center We offer expert treatment for prolactinomas, growth-hormone secreting adenomas, pituitary-based Cushing's disease, and other pituitary tumors. Neurosurgeon Viviane Tabar (right) and nurse Lystra Swift check equipment in one of the center's surgical suites.

Our experts are among the most experienced in the nation in diagnosing and treating tumors of the pituitary gland and skull base. Patients receive personalized care from our multidisciplinary group of experts, which includes neurosurgeons, endocrinologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, skull base surgeons, radiation oncologists, and neuro-radiologists.

Tumors of the pituitary gland and skull base are often challenging to identify and diagnose, partly because many never cause symptoms. In some people, headaches, nausea, and vision problems are attributed to other diseases, and the possibility of a pituitary or other skull base tumor is overlooked.

At the Pituitary and Skull Base Tumor Center, we combine the use of state-of-the-art diagnostics — including intraoperative MRI, imaging, hormone testing, and visual field testing — with endoscopic or open surgery, radiation therapy, and medication to ensure that you receive the most sophisticated care available.

Our team of experts conducts monthly meetings to discuss challenging cases and referrals from colleagues and patients both at MSK and at other institutions.

Often, our patients are able to visit with three of our specialists — an endocrinologist, an ophthalmologist, and a surgeon — in a single day, rather than having to see multiple doctors at different locations.

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Intra-Operative Imaging Suite To improve the success of brain surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s neurosurgeons perform brain surgery in an intra-operative imaging suite that has a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner in the operating room

Moving from Surgery to MRI Evaluation

Our intraoperative MRI is one of just a handful in use at hospitals around the country.(1) The high-field-strength MRI scanner enables our surgeons to rapidly and accurately capture images of the pituitary gland and surrounding structures. We can confirm that a tumor has been entirely removed while patients are still under anesthesia. With this enhanced precision, outcomes for our patients have improved and the need for a second surgery has been reduced.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we are also experienced in using a minimally invasive technique that involves the insertion of an endoscope — a thin, lighted tube with a camera at its tip — to facilitate removal of a tumor through the nose. Surgeons are able to bypass brain tissue, operating instead through an incision inside the nasal passage.

In addition to endoscopy, we use a surgical approach called craniotomy when appropriate. With craniotomy, an incision is made in the skull to remove tumors that have become too large or enmeshed in the surface of the skull to remove in other ways.

Learn more about our expertise in endoscopy for pituitary and other skull base tumors and about our approach to diagnosing and treating specific types of pituitary tumors.