Surgery for Pituitary Tumors and Other Pituitary Disorders

What to Expect From Pituitary Surgery

Thank you for choosing the OHSU Northwest Pituitary Center for your treatment. We understand that having surgery can be overwhelming. The information below will help you know:

  • More about pituitary surgery procedures
  • Who will be treating you before, during and after surgery

Pituitary Surgery Procedures

Pituitary tumors are removed in different ways. The most common ways are:

  • Endonasal (through the nose)
  • Transcranial (through the skull), if the tumor is too large to remove through the nose

Pituitary Surgery Staff

Our Neurosurgeons

If you have surgery, your care will be supervised by one of our neurosurgeons (surgeons specializing in surgery of the nerves and nervous system): Dr. Delashaw, Dr. Dogan or Dr. Coppa. (See Our Team)

Our team also includes a fellow. This is a fully trained neurosurgeon who is spending an additional year studying complicated brain surgery.

Physician Assistants

A physician assistant is trained and certified to do many of the things a doctor does, including interviewing you, examining you and prescribing tests and treatments. Physician assistants are supervised by doctors.

Our physician assistants will help care for you before, during and after surgery, including your hospital stay. The physician assistants at the OHSU Northwest Pituitary Center have almost 20 years of experience caring for patients who have undergone a neurosurgical procedure (surgery of the nerves and nervous system).

Neurosurgical Residents

A resident is a doctor who has finished medical school and is training in a medical specialty. Our residents are training to become neurosurgeons (doctors who specialize in surgery of the nerves and nervous system). You might receive some care from our residents.

Other Staff Members

The OHSU Northwest Pituitary Center works closely with staff around OHSU Hospital to give you the best care. In the hospital, the neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU) may help with your care. This is a team of hospital healthcare providers who care for patients with serious conditions or surgery. It includes:

  • Medical doctors who specialize in hospital care
  • Nurse practitioners (nurses with advanced training)
  • Residents (doctors taking specialty training)

Because OHSU is a teaching hospital, you might also meet medical students and surgery residents (doctors taking specialty training in surgery).

Day of Surgery

On the day of your surgery, you should check in at Admitting, located on the 9th floor of OHSU Hospital. When it is time for your surgery, we will take you to the preoperative area, where you meet nurses, members of the anesthesia team and operating room nursing staff.

After your surgery, you will be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) ( recovery room). Families are not allowed in the recovery room, but you can see your family members when you get to your hospital room.

If you have pituitary surgery through your skull (head), your hospital room will be in the neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU). After you leave the recovery room, we will take you to the hospital imaging center for a CT scan of your head before going to your hospital room. The CT scan allows your healthcare team to check for any problems.

After Pituitary Surgery on Your Head

If you had pituitary surgery through your skull (head), you will be cared for in the neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU). On the first night of your hospital stay, the nurses will check you every hour. They will check to see how your brain and nervous system are working after the surgery. You might feel like you are not allowed to rest, but these checks are needed at first so we can make sure you are recovering well and catch any problems early.

People caring for you in the NSICU include:

  • The NSICU attending physician (doctor in charge)
  • Nurses
  • Neurosurgery residents
  • Physician assistants
  • Speech therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists

If you are doing well after your first night, you will move to another part of the hospital where you can rest without as many interruptions.

Your Hospital Stay

Many members of your healthcare team will take care of you in the hospital after pituitary surgery. Some members are:

  • Physician assistants – our physician assistants give most of your hospital care after surgery
  • Neurosurgery residents – assist the physician assistants
  • Doctors – attending neurosurgeon (doctor in charge)
  • Fellow – doctor completing advanced training in head and brain surgery

A neurosurgeon will check on you every day of your hospital stay. Your neurosurgeon always knows how you are doing. If you have any questions about your care, please ask any member of your healthcare team. 

Length of Your Hospital Stay after Pituitary Surgery

How long you spend in the hospital is different for every patient. Most people stay for several days after pituitary surgery. After your first night, how long you stay depends on how well you are feeling and how quickly you get back to daily activities such as getting out of bed and walking.

After pituitary surgery, you may go to a rehabilitation center, nursing care center or straight home. If you go home, therapists and other healthcare providers may visit you there to help you recover.

Leaving the Hospital After Pituitary Surgery

When you leave the hospital after pituitary surgery, we give you a printed sheet of instructions. It has information about:

  • Taking care of your surgery area
  • Activities you can do
  • Activities you should not do
  • When to call the doctor or get emergency care if you have problems

We will give you prescriptions for any medications you need.

Asking Questions About Your Pituitary Surgery and Recovery

If you have general questions about pituitary surgery, anyone on your healthcare team can usually answer them.

Your attending (supervising) surgeon can answer more specific questions, such as:

  • How much of your tumor was removed
  • The results of pathology tests (laboratory tests of your tumor tissue)
  • Anything implanted (placed) in your head during surgery
  • Other decisions during surgery

If a family member is with you in the hospital, you may ask them to write your questions down so you can ask when the doctor checks on you.

Please have just one person (you or one other family member) ask questions about your medical condition. If many people ask questions, your healthcare team may have to repeat the answers and explain your condition many different times. This takes time away from your care and can cause confusion. Have one person who asks questions and gives information to the rest of your family.

For Family Members

Whether you are a patient, family member or visitor, we want to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible.

We provide a variety of places for you to eat, fill prescriptions, and shop for gifts or essentials. Find information here: