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Nelson's syndrome Microchapters
Nelson's syndrome On the Web
American Roentgen Ray Society Images of Nelson's syndrome
Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D.  Phone:617-632-7753
Nelson's syndrome is the rapid enlargement of a pituitary adenoma that occurs after the removal of both adrenal glands.
Removal of both adrenal glands, or bilateral adrenalectomy, is an operation for Cushing's Disease. Removal of both adrenals eliminates production of cortisol, and the lack of cortisol's negative feedback can allow any preexisting pituitary adenoma to grow unchecked. Continued growth can cause mass effects due to physical compression of brain tissue, along with increased production of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH).
Differentiating Nelson's syndrome from Other Diseases
Epidemiology and Demographics
Nelson's syndrome is rare because bilateral adrenalectomy is now only used in extreme circumstances.
Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis
History and Symptoms
- Skin hyperpigmentation due to excess MSH.