The pituitary gland is a small gland at the base of the brain that produces a large number of the hormones controlling growth, sexual development, and water balance. The gland also produces hormones that control many other hormone-secreting glands, such as the thyroid gland. Most pituitary disorders are caused by tumours that alter the output of particular pituitary hormones.
This section opens with a discussion of various tumours of the pituitary gland. Some types cause underproduction of particular hormones, and others cause overproduction. The abnormal hormone levels can have adverse effects elsewhere in the body; these effects are discussed in the articles that follow.
Particular pituitary hormones affect other hormone-secreting glands in the body; a pituitary disorder may thus lead to a disorder in another gland (see Thyroid and parathyroid gland disorders, and Adrenal gland disorders). Sex hormone disorders that may be caused by a problem with the pituitary gland are discussed elsewhere (see Male hormonal disorders, and Menstrual, menopausal, and hormonal problems), as are growth abnormalities in children that result from pituitary disorders (see Growth disorders).
For further information on the structure and function of the pituitary gland, see Hormones and Metabolism.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.