When Should Someone Have a Hormone Assessment After Traumatic Brain Injury?

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Hypopituitarism is a hormone impairment in which the pituitary gland is not producing sufficient hormones. At least 25% of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury will develop hypopituitarism, and it can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of decreased hormones can sometimes overlap with symptoms of the brain injury itself.

People who have suffered a moderate or severe brain injury are most likely to develop hypopituitarism. Someone with a mild brain injury can also develop hypopituitarism, but it would also be more likely to be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. However, a hormone screening of all people who suffer a brain injury is not feasible. It is therefore important to determine who is most at risk, who would benefit most from treatment, and when screening is most appropriate.

A recent study suggests that anyone who has had a moderate or severe brain injury should undergo hormone screening within the first year after the injury (ideally within the first week, and then again at 3 to 6 months), and continue to be assessed regularly after the first year. People who have had a mild brain injury should be screened only if they show any clinical signs of hormone deficiencies.

Glyyn N & Agha A. Which patient requires neuroendocrine assessment following traumatic brain injury, when and how? Clinical Neuroendocrinology. (September 2012).