Pituitary Glossary starting with S

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


Convulsions. Epilepsy.

Seizures are caused by temporary disruption in electrical activity of the brain.

Sella Turcica

Bony structure at the base of the skull in which the pituitary gland rests.

A depression in the middle line of the upper surface of the sphenoid bone in which the pituitary gland is lodged.

Skinfold Thickness

A non-invasive measurement made with calipers from which the percentage body fat can be estimated.

A non-invasive measurement made with calipers from which the percentage body fat can be estimated.


Increased involuntary muscle contraction (the opposite of hypotonicity).

Spasticity is a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. This contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and may interfere with movement, speech, and manner of walking. Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. It may occur in association with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, damage to the brain because of lack of oxygen, brain trauma, severe head injury, and metabolic diseases such as adrenoleukodystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and phenylketonuria. Symptoms may include hypertonicity (increased muscle tone), clonus (a series of rapid muscle contractions), exaggerated deep tendon reflexes, muscle spasms, scissoring (involuntary crossing of the legs), and fixed joints. The degree of spasticity varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, painful, and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Spasticity can interfere with rehabilitation in patients with certain disorders, and often interferes with daily activities.
Treatment for spasticity may include such medications as baclofen, diazepam, tizanidine or clonazepam. Physical therapy regimens may include muscle stretching and range of motion exercises to help prevent shrinkage or shortening of muscles and to reduce the severity of symptoms. Surgery may be recommended for tendon release or to sever the nerve-muscle pathway.


An instrument for enlarging the opening of any canal or cavity in order to facilitate inspection of its interior.

An instrument for enlarging the opening of any canal or cavity in order to facilitate inspection of its interior.

Sphenoid Sinus

Either of two irregular cavities in the body of the sphenoid bone that communicate with the nasal cavities.

Sinus (cavity lined with mucosa) that lies directly behind the nose and in front of the pituitary gland – the back wall of which makes up the anterior wall of the sella turcica.

Spinal Fluid

Also known as cerebrospinal fluid. Clear colorless liquid secreted by the choroid plexus of the lateral, third, and fourth ventricles, and contained within the ventricular system of the brain and spinal cord and within the subarachnoid space.

See cerebrospinal fluid.


Somatotropin release inhibiting factor (same as GHRIH).

Often referred to as somatostatin. A number of drugs to treat GH excess act like this native hypothalamic hormone.


A stem. Usually refers to the pituitary stalk that connects the pituitary gland to the hypothalamus.

A stem. Usually refers to the pituitary stalk that connects the pituitary gland to the hypothalamus.


Device used to maintain a bodily orifice or cavity during skin grafting, or to immobilize a skin graft after placement. Slender thread, rod, or catheter, lying within the space in the interior of a tubular structure, such as an artery or the intestine. Used to provide support during or after opening surgically, or to assure the opening of an intact but contracted lumen.

A stent is a small mesh tube that’s used to treat narrowed or weakened arteries in the body. A stent may be placed in an artery as part of a procedure called angioplasty. Angioplasty can restore blood flow through narrowed or blocked arteries. Stents help prevent arteries from becoming narrowed or blocked again in the months or years after treatment with angioplasty. A stent may also be placed in a weakened artery to improve blood flow and to help prevent the artery from bursting.
Stents are usually made of metal mesh, but sometimes they’re made of fabric. Fabric stents, also called stent grafts, are used in larger arteries. Some stents are coated with medicines that are slowly and continuously released into the artery. These medicines help prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.


Precise positioning in three dimensional space.

Refers to surgery or radiation therapy directed by various scanning devices.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

A radiation therapy technique that uses a large number of narrow, precisely aimed, highly focused beams of ionizing radiation. The stereotactic radiosurgery beams are aimed from many directions circling the head, and meet at a specific point.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is not considered an invasive surgical procedure, but a radiation therapy that focuses high-powered x-rays onto a small area. Typical radiation therapy directs radiation to the tumor and nearby tissue, but stereotactic radiosurgery concentrates the radiation onto the abnormal area only. It requires both a neurosurgeon and a radiotherapist in most cases.


See glucocorticosteroids.

Also called: Corticosteroids, Glucocorticoids. Anabolic steroids can have harmful effects, but corticosteroids treat a variety of problems. Corticosteroids steroids are similar to hormones that the adrenal glands produce to fight stress associated with illnesses and injuries; reducing inflammation and having a positive affect the immune system. Corticosteroids are used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, skin conditions, arthritis, asthma and some cancers.
Steroids are strong medicines that should be taken for only short periods of time, as they can produce side affects such as weakened bones and cataracts.


The sudden development of localized disturbances in the nervous system, usually related to reduced blood in the brain.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or there is sudden bleeding into or around the brain. The symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination; or sudden severe headache with no known cause. There are two forms of stroke: ischemic – blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain, and hemorrhagic – bleeding into or around the brain.
Generally there are three treatment stages for stroke: prevention, therapy immediately after the stroke, and post-stroke rehabilitation. Therapies to prevent a first or recurrent stroke are based on treating an individual’s underlying risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes. Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot causing an ischemic stroke or by stopping the bleeding of a hemorrhagic stroke. Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Medication or drug therapy is the most common treatment for stroke. The most popular classes of drugs used to prevent or treat stroke are antithrombotics (antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants) and thrombolytics.


Beneath the skin.

Cutaneous, meaning having to do with the skin; subcutaneous means beneath or under the skin. For example, a cyst located under the skin is a subcutaneous cyst; a subcutaneous port is a tube surgically placed into a blood vessel and attached to a disk placed under the skin. It is used for the administration of intravenous fluids and drugs; also can be used to obtain blood samples.

Available Now!

The Pituitary Patient Resource Guide Sixth Edition is now available! Be one of the first to have the most up-to-date information. The Pituitary Patient Resource Guide a one of a kind publication intended as an invaluable source of information not only for patients but also their families, physicians, and all health care providers. It contains information on symptoms, proper testing, how to get a diagnosis, and the treatment options that are available. It also includes Pituitary Network Association’s patient resource listings for expert medical care.

Buy Now

PNA Gratefully Acknowledges our Supporters

Continuing Education Program

If you are a nurse or medical professional, register for PNA CEU Membership and  earn CEU credits to learn about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for patients with pituitary disorders. Help PNA reduce the time it takes for patients to get an accurate diagnosis.

Register Now!

For more information click here!