Prolactin (PRL) secreting tumors are the most common functional neoplasms of the pituitary and are commonly subdivided into microprolactinomas (<10 mm) and macroprolactinomas (≥10 mm) according to their baseline diameter. Patients with prolactinoma present with symptoms evolving from hyperprolactinemia and with those caused by pressure of the expanding mass on surrounding tissues, including the optic chiasm and the cavernous sinuses. We hereby describe the possible complications of macroprolactinomas, including mass effects, hypopituitarism, CSF leak and apoplexy and discuss their relevant management.
In general, all patients harboring macroprolactinomas should be treated, the objectives being to achieve normal or near normal PRL levels, to reduce or stabilize adenoma size and to recover altered pituitary axes. Medical therapy with dopamine agonists (DA) is the preferred initial treatment for the vast majority of patients harboring prolactinomas. Pituitary surgery is indicated in patients who cannot tolerate or are resistant to therapy with DAs, patients that seek fertility and harbor adenomas that impinge on the optic chiasm, psychiatric patients with contraindication to DA treatment and patients presenting with pituitary apoplexy or a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. In addition, in this review, several patient populations with unique clinical characteristics will be discussed separately namely postmenopausal women, the elderly, children and patients with pituitary carcinoma.