Diagnosis and Treatment at the Pituitary and Skull Base Tumor Center
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.
MRI Evaluation--If any residual tumor is found during MRI evaluation, surgery can be resumed and the remaining cancerous tissue removed. Being able to reevaluate the patient's tumor with MRI during surgery allows neurosurgeons to operate with increased precision and will reduce the need for and risk of a second operation.
From Surgery into MRI--Patient is positioned for MRI evaluation.
Inside the Operating Room--The primary treatment of most pituitary tumors is by means of surgery.
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.
- Endoscopy for Pituitary and Other Skull Base Tumors
Memorial Sloan Kettering’s team is uniquely skilled in removing tumors through the nose.
- ACTH-Producing Tumors
Our doctors are often able to use minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat ACTH-producing tumors.
- Growth-Hormone Producing Tumors
At Memorial Sloan Kettering, surgery is the primary treatment approach used for this rare condition.
Medications are often effective in treating these very common tumors.
- TSH-Producing Tumors
At Memorial Sloan Kettering, surgery with a minimally invasive approach is the first measure used for these types of rare pituitary tumors.
- Nonfunctional Pituitary Tumors
Minimally invasive surgery done through an incision inside the nasal passage is the most common treatment for large nonfunctional tumors.