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Tests are performed to detect excess or deficient hormone production, determine the cause and evaluate the severity of the condition. Testing frequently includes both the hormones that the pituitary produces (such as TSH) and the hormones of other endocrine glands that the pituitary is responsible for stimulating (such as the thyroid gland hormone thyroxine). Since pituitary hormones are released as needed, concentrations may be relatively constant in the blood (such as TSH); vary over the course of a day (such as GH); vary over a cycle (such as FSH and LH during the menstrual cycle); or be present in specific situations (such as prolactin in a lactating woman or ACTH as a response to a physical or emotional stress). This may lead to the need for suppression or stimulation challenge tests. Medications are given to stimulate or suppress hormone production so that the change can be measured. It may also lead to related tests, such as the test to measure IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1), which reflects total growth hormone (GH) production, along with the test to measure GH.

Testing may be used to help diagnose a pituitary disorder and may be ordered at intervals to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. Long-term monitoring may be necessary in some cases because treatment may not completely resolve the condition; some treatments may cause additional pituitary dysfunction in the present (e.g., surgery) or in the future (e.g., radiation); and some inherited conditions may present a lifetime risk of developing a pituitary disorder.

Laboratory tests

Non-laboratory tests

Last Review Date: August 8, 2017