Long-Term Consequences of Pituitary Gland Dysfunction After Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Imaging

A traumatic brain injury puts a person at a significant risk for developing hypopituitarism, a disorder in which the pituitary gland of the brain produces insufficient hormones. Although many recent studies have focused on this increased risk, there has not previously been many studies the effect on long-term outcome.

A recent study of 51 people with severe traumatic brain injury between 2 and 10 years after the traumatic event found that 28% had hypopituitarism and 22% specifically had growth hormone deficiency. As a result of the hormone deficiencies, these patients were also more likely to be overweight. Besides increased weight, however, there was no other significant quality of life change related to hormone deficiencies.

The researchers suggested that people who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and who had gain significant weight in the years after the injury should be specifically screened for pituitary gland dysfunction.

Ulfarsson T, Gudnason GA, Rosen T, et al. Pituitary function and functional outcome in adults after severe traumatic brain injury: The long-term perspective. Journal of Neurotrauma. (December 2012).