What is the Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland is a small bean-shaped gland located at the base of the brain in a bony structure called the sella turcica. The gland is regulated by a region of the brain called the hypothalamus from which it hangs by a thin vascular and neural connection called the pituitary stalk or infundibulum. Directly above the pituitary are the crossing fibers of the optic nerves called the optic chiasm. On either side of the pituitary is a venous channel called the cavernous sinus through which run the large carotid arteries that carry blood to the brain and important nerves that control eye movement and facial sensation.

Despite its small size, the pituitary gland is often called the master gland because it produces hormones that influence nearly every part of the body. The pituitary controls growth, reproduction, lactation, thyroid and adrenal metabolism, as well as salt and water balance. Pituitary hormones are also implicated in emotional wellbeing. Because of the close proximity of the pituitary to other intracranial nerves and blood vessels and the vital hormonal control the gland provides, disorders of the pituitary can cause a wide range of hormonal and neurological symptoms.

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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.

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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.

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