Anterior pituitary dysfunction following traumatic brain injury (TBI)


Dr Amar Agha, Department of Endocrinology, Beaumont Hospital, Beaumont Road, Dublin 9, Ireland. E-mail:


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the commonest cause of death and disability in young adults living in industrialized countries. Several recent studies have convincingly shown that anterior hypopituitarism is a common complication of head trauma with a prevalence of at least 25% among long-term survivors. This is a much higher frequency than previously thought and suggests that most cases of post-traumatic hypopituitarism (PTHP) remain undiagnosed and untreated. These findings raise important questions about the potential contribution of PTHP to the high physical and neuropsychiatric morbidity seen in this group of patients. In this review, we examine the published reports on the neuroendocrine abnormalities in TBI patients and highlight new data that give novel insights into the natural history of this disorder. We discuss the potential contribution of PTHP to recovery and rehabilitation after injury and the need for the identification and the appropriate and timely management of hormone deficiencies to optimize patient recovery from head trauma, improve quality of life and avoid the long-term adverse consequences of untreated hypopituitarism.