Tests for pituitary conditions | The Pituitary Foundation (2023)

Basic blood tests

Initially, your GP may perform some basic pituitary hormone function tests. The hormones that can be tested via a simple blood test include: cortisol, thyroid, prolactin, oestrogen, testosterone and growth hormone.

If the results returned were showing out of normal range and the GP agrees, a referral to an endocrinologist would be the next step for more thorough investigations.

Private Blood Tests

Please note that there are other private blood testing providers available and this list is not exhaustive. We do not endorse any products or companies.

Blue Horizon Medicals have various blood tests available to order online or by telephone.

Blue Horizon Medicals are fully staffed by registered healthcare professionals and are considered to be the most attentive health screening provider in the UK. They use a plain language policy which means that the medical reports produced are both well received by clients and well respected for their relevant content within the medical community.

(Video) Cushing's disease - diagnosis and treatment with Malini Raj (Australian Pituitary Foundation)

When they send you the test kit, they can also help you locate a local clinic where you can have your blood professionally taken, which usually costs about £15.

Alternatively they can arrange for a registered phlebotomist to collect the samples in the comfort of your own home, which costs £75. The home visiting service may not cover some remote areas in the UK.

Blue Horizon MedicalsThis is our main site which sends out postal pathology packs for tests by TDL pathology. We assist in finding phlebotomy locations. (1500 tests).
Blood Tests LondonFor anyoneliving in London, they can order online, and then attend TDL pathology in Wimpole Street straight away for their tests (1500 tests)
Blood Testing LondonOrder online, and attend the Biolab Laboratory in London for a large range of 300 tests.
Home blood testing available through Microtainers (about 30 blood tests and profiles) TDL pathology.
Home Blood Test co ukAbout 70 Urine and Saliva tests by Biolab for home collection.
Private Blood Tests UKThis site will enable users to obtain over 1,500 private blood tests at an even cheaper rate, with one low medical fee.
Private Blood Tests IrelandFor residents of the Republic of Ireland.
Get the tests at virtually Lab prices in the USA across all states
Blood Tests CanadaAccess about 70 tests across Quebec and British Columbia.

Health screening

Blue Horizon Medicals have now introduced a health screening service athealthscreening.co.ukwhere an array of over 40 blood test health assessment tests are accompanied by a blood pressure monitor and retractable waist measure (both of which are yours to keep).

Asides from a 23 page health screening report, you will also receive a letter from their private Doctor discussing your results in more detail. Call them any time on 0800 772 0484 or emailsupport@healthscreening.co.uk

(Video) Q&A: Pituitary conditions & bone health with the Royal Osteoporosis Society

More thorough investigation tests...The following lists all of the usual pituitary tests carried out, but please note that you might not require all of these tests.

Name of test: ACTH

What hormone does it test: Directly tests ACTH
The condition it tests for: Cushing’s (excess cortisol) or Hypoadrenalism (low cortisol)
How is the test given: Blood sample taken first thing in the morning
How might I feel: Normal blood test, but needs to be done at hospital
What do the results mean: Deficiency of ACTH; underactive pituitary; raised/over production
How often is the test done: When endocrinologist feels it is necessary

Name of test:Day curve

What hormone does it test:Cortisol
The condition it tests for:To assess adequate levels achieved pre- and post-medication for those taking hydrocortisone
How is the test given:Take your usual hydrocortisone doses, blood is taken several times a day
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:Shows under- or over-replacement with medication
How often is the test done:Varies depending on your clinic/consultant

(Video) Acromegaly with Sherwin Criseno - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021

Name of test:DexamethasoneSuppression

What hormone does it test:Cortisol
The condition it tests for:Excess cortisol production
How is the test given:Tablet taken at midnight; blood test the following morning
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:Normal individuals suppress cortisol levels
How often is the test done:Initially, to aid diagnosis

Name of test:FSH

What hormone does it test:Follicle stimulating hormone
The condition it tests for:Stimulates production of sperm in men and follicle development in the ovaries for women
How is the test given:Blood sample
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:Depends on age and timing of menstrual cycle(pre/mid/post)
How often is the test done:Varies

Name of test:Glucose tolerance

What hormone does it test:Growth hormone
The condition it tests for:Acromegaly
How is the test given:After a sugary drink, bloods are taken at 30-minute intervals for 2 hours
How might I feel:Nausea, headache (although not always)
What do the results mean:People with acromegaly do not suppress GH levels
How often is the test done:Initial diagnosis and for review purposes. Varies, depending on your clinic/consultantbut at least annually when taking GH replacement

Name of test:IGF-1

What hormone does it test:IGF-1 levels in those on GH replacement
The condition it tests for:To monitor baseline and regular reviews for patients on replacement GH
How is the test given:Blood test
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:Guide to overall circulating levels of GH in the blood stream
How often is the test done:To assess pituitary function and diagnosis of GH deficiency

(Video) Newly Diagnosed with Prof John Wass - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021

Name of test:Insulin stress test/Insulin tolerance test

What hormone does it test:Gold Standard to assess pituitary function for cortisol and GH
The condition it tests for:To assess correct levels of cortisol and GH
How is the test given:After an injection of insulin, blood is taken every 30-minutes for 2 hours
How might I feel:Because blood sugar is lowered, you may feel dizzy and nauseous, sweaty, clammy, disorientated, heart racing. These effects are short-acting.
What do the results mean:Lowering blood sugar causes stress and body should respond by secreting cortisol and GH
How often is the test done:Diagnosis of GH deficiency. Post-operative: to assess pituitary function.

Name of test:LH

What hormone does it test:Luteinising hormone
The condition it tests for:Acts on testes in men to stimulate testosterone and on the ovaries in women to stimulate oestrogen
How is the test given:Blood test
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:see FSH
How often the test is done:

Name of test:Oestrogen

What hormone does it test:Oestrogen (females)
The condition it tests for:
How is the test given:Blood test
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:see: FSH
How often is the test done:

Name of test:Synacthen (stimulation test)

What hormone does it test:Cortisol
The condition it tests for:Low levels of cortisol
How is the test given:An intravenous injection, then a blood test
How might I feel:Some patients experience slight feeling of sickness, flushing of their face and a faster heartbeat. These are only brief and will have disappeared by the end of the test.
What do the results mean:Poor response shows cortisol deficiency
How often is the test done:Varies (usually 6-monthly or annually) dependent on individual circumstances Please note: for patients with symptoms that may suggest cortisol deficiency that a ‘pass’ on a SST, may not always mean that cortisol deficiency is excluded, and that with persisting symptoms, referral to an endocrinologist is recommended, where testing may be carried out with alternatives such as the glucagon test or insulin stress test.

(Video) Adrenal Insufficiency Q&A with Pauline Whittingham - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021

Name of test:Testosterone

What hormone does it test:Testosterone (in males)
The condition it tests for:
How is the test given:Blood test (morning 9:00am sample is most accurate)
How might I feel:No side effects
What do the results mean:see: Diagnosis of deficiency
How often is the test done: For diagnosis and ongoing monitoring

Name of test:Water deprivation

What hormone does it test:ADH (anti-diuretic hormone). Serum and urine Osmolality (ability to concentrate urine)
The condition it tests for:Diabetes insipidus
How is the test given:Patient deprived of any fluids for approximately 8 hours. Blood is taken, weight checked and urine tested at regular intervals.
How might I feel:If you have DI, this test can be very uncomfortable as you cannot drink anything
What do the results mean:Specialist interpretation required
How often is the test done:For diagnosis only


What tests are done for pituitary function? ›

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) of your brain can detect a pituitary tumor or other pituitary gland problems.

How do you know if you have a low functioning pituitary gland? ›

Hypopituitarism is an underactive pituitary gland that results in deficiency of one or more pituitary hormones. Symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on what hormone is deficient and may include short height, infertility, intolerance to cold, fatigue, and an inability to produce breast milk.

What is the most common pituitary disorder? ›

Pituitary tumors, also called pituitary adenomas, are the most common cause of pituitary gland disorders. More than 99 percent of these tumors are benign.

How are pituitary problems diagnosed? ›

Hormone testing is crucial for diagnosing pituitary tumors. For some people, a small pituitary tumor does not cause symptoms. The only way to diagnose it is by studying your hormones. Dynamic endocrine testing is a series of special blood tests that help your endocrinologist rule out other conditions.

Does Covid vaccine affect pituitary gland? ›

There has been an increasing number of reported thrombocytopenia, bleeding, and arterial and venous thromboses cases occurring within days to weeks after the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine [9]. Such conditions could possibly trigger pituitary apoplexy.

How do you restore pituitary gland function? ›

Common treatment options for hypopituitarism include:
  1. Hormone replacement therapy: Hormone replacement therapy aims to restore the deficient pituitary hormone(s) to normal levels.
  2. Surgery: Pituitary adenomas can cause hypopituitarism. ...
  3. Radiation therapy: Some pituitary adenomas can be treated using radiation therapy.
22 Nov 2021

What drugs affect the pituitary gland? ›

Introduction: Pituitary function is influenced by several drugs, including anti-depressant, opioids, glucocorticoids, chemotherapeutic agents, immunomodulators and the newly developed tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Can a pituitary tumor be seen in an eye exam? ›

Did you know that regular eye exams, even if you do not wear glasses or contacts, can help discover eye conditions like a pituitary tumor, also known as a pituitary adenoma, before you even start to have symptoms? Watching out for pituitary tumors is only one reason you should have an annual eye exam.

What happens when the pituitary gland is not functioning properly? ›

Pituitary hormone imbalances can cause many different symptoms depending on which hormone is affected, including: A lack of growth or excess growth in children. Male and female infertility. Irregular periods.

What does a pituitary headache feel like? ›

Headache pain in these situations is typically characterized by steady, bifrontal or unilateral frontal aching (ipsilateral to tumor). In some instances, pain is localized in the midface (either because of involvement of the second division of the trigeminal or secondary to sinusitis).

What autoimmune diseases affect the pituitary gland? ›

Primary hypophysitis — also called idopathic hypophysitis — is a rare inflammatory condition of the pituitary gland and is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. Immune cells (primarily leukocytes) infiltrate the pituitary gland and gather into a mass that can mimic a pituitary tumor.

How does the pituitary gland affect behavior? ›

It has been documented that clinical depression and anxiety are common with pituitary disorders. Some patients report memory and mental confusion, anger and/or rage and even changes in a patient's overall sense and awareness of themselves.

Can the pituitary gland be repaired? ›

Recent studies in the pituitary gland have demonstrated that although cell turnover is normally low, pituitary stem cells do exist and can regenerate pituitary endocrine cell types in response to physiological stressors (6, 7).

Does the pituitary gland affect the liver? ›

Studies have established a relationship between hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction and the onset of liver damage, which may occasionally progress to cirrhosis. Patients with hypopituitarism can develop a metabolic syndrome-like phenotype.

Can stress affect your pituitary gland? ›

During times of stress, the hypothalamus, a collection of nuclei that connects the brain and the endocrine system, signals the pituitary gland to produce a hormone, which in turn signals the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, to increase the production of cortisol.

How do you check pituitary levels? ›

Blood tests help doctors detect many hormonal abnormalities associated with pituitary tumors. For example, a blood test can reveal high levels of the hormone prolactin, which occurs in a condition called hyperprolactinemia. This can indicate the presence of a pituitary tumor called a prolactinoma.

What blood test shows pituitary tumor? ›

Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) blood levels can be checked to see if you have a gonadotropin-secreting tumor. Levels of related hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are often checked as well.

Can a blood test detect pituitary tumor? ›

To diagnose functional pituitary adenomas, doctors may run blood tests or other diagnostic tests to look for abnormally high amounts of: adrenocortisol (ACTH) and cortisol. growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) prolactin.

Can an eye test detect pituitary tumor? ›

During a visual field test, if a patient struggles to see the dots of light at either side, or pressure is detected on the optic nerves, it may indicate a pituitary tumour. They should be referred to a hospital ophthalmologist, and then for an MRI scan and an appointment with an endocrinologist.

What can damage the pituitary gland? ›

Trauma may cause your pituitary gland to stop producing enough of one or more of its hormones. For example, if you had brain surgery, a brain infection, or a head injury, may affect your pituitary gland. Certain tumors can also affect the function of this gland.

Who treats pituitary disorders? ›

Endocrinologists – doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary tumors and other disorders of the pituitary gland.

How can I improve my pituitary function? ›

Tips for pituitary gland health
  1. eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. choosing good sources of fats, such as those that contain omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.
  3. opting for whole grains over refined grains.
  4. reducing sodium intake.


1. Your Endocrine Clinic Visit with Dr Rob Murray - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021
(The Pituitary Foundation Patient Support)
2. Paediatric Cushing's disease - Madi (Australian Pituitary Foundation)
(Australian Pituitary Foundation Videos)
3. Cushing's with Professor John Newell-Price - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021
(The Pituitary Foundation Patient Support)
4. Prolactinoma with Dr Niki Karavitaki - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021
(The Pituitary Foundation Patient Support)
5. Fertility with Professor William Ledger - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021
(The Pituitary Foundation Patient Support)
6. For Parents of Hypopituitary Children with Prof Indi Banerjee - Virtual Pituitary Conference 2021
(The Pituitary Foundation Patient Support)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Last Updated: 03/30/2023

Views: 5576

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Birthday: 1995-01-14

Address: 55021 Usha Garden, North Larisa, DE 19209

Phone: +6812240846623

Job: Corporate Healthcare Strategist

Hobby: Singing, Listening to music, Rafting, LARPing, Gardening, Quilting, Rappelling

Introduction: My name is Foster Heidenreich CPA, I am a delightful, quaint, glorious, quaint, faithful, enchanting, fine person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.