Apoplexy of microprolactinomas during pregnancy: report of five cases and review of the literature

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  • 1 Université Paris-Saclay, Inserm, Physiologie et Physiopathologie Endocriniennes, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Bicêtre, Service d’Endocrinologie et des Maladies de la Reproduction, and Centre de Référence des Maladies Rares de l'Hypophyse, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France
  • 2 Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Medical Research Laboratory, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 3 Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Pituitary Center and Center for Endocrine Tumors, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Correspondence should be addressed to J O L Jorgensen or P Chanson; Email: joj@clin.au.dk or philippe.chanson@bct.aphp.fr

*(E Kuhn and A A Weinreich contributed equally to this work)

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Context

Prolactinomas frequently cause amenorrhoea, galactorrhoea and infertility and require dopamine agonist (DA) treatment to normalize prolactin levels and hence, restore ovulation. The vast majority of female patients harbour microprolactinomas in whom DA treatment is usually discontinued at the time of pregnancy diagnosis and surveillance is generally limited as the symptomatic growth is considered very rare.

Case descriptions

We report five cases of women harbouring a microprolactinoma in whom symptomatic pituitary apoplexy occurred during pregnancy. Only one necessitated surgery during pregnancy, while the others were treated conservatively by reintroducing DAs in three. A systematic literature review found reports of four additional cases among 20 cases of prolactinomas (both macro- and micro-prolactinomas) complicated by apoplexy during pregnancy.

Conclusion

During pregnancy, pituitary apoplexy may occur in pre-existing microprolactinomas, causing tumour enlargement and headache, which may be self-limiting but may require intervention by re-initation of dopamine agonists or surgery. Our literature review confirms that this clinical event is rare; nevertheless, physicians managing pregnant patients with microprolactinomas must be aware that symptomatic pituitary apoplexy may incidentally occur in all trimesters of pregnancy and require prompt radiological, endocrine and ophthalmological assessment and treatment.

 

     European Society of Endocrinology

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