If a pituitary tumor has grown particularly large or cannot be removed transsphenoidally, a craniotomy may be necessary. A craniotomy is a surgical procedure in which a bone flap is removed from the skull to reach the tumor.

Patient Benefits:

  • In certain situations, craniotomy is the safest and most effective means of removing a pituitary tumor.

Patient Risks:

  • A potential risk in removing a pituitary tumor is damage to the pituitary gland, which may result in the need for hormone replacement therapy.
  • Damage to the posterior pituitary may result in a condition called diabetes insipidus, which may or may not be permanent.
  • Patients occasionally experience seizures after a craniotomy, which may require anticonvulsant therapy.
  • Rarely, a cerebrospinal fluid leak may occur, which can lead to meningitis. Surgery may be required to repair the leak.
  • Even less likely, the carotid arteries, located on either side of the pituitary, can be damaged during surgery, leading to a stroke or blood loss.
  • Postoperative brain swelling or blood clots can occur.