Background. This case study illustrates Harvey Cushing's pioneering work in pituitary transplantation in the early 20th century and the essential relationship between laboratory research and clinical practice. In 1911, a 48 year-old man presented at Johns Hopkins Hospital with bitemporal hemianopsia, hypothermia, hypersomnolence, decreased libido, polydypsia and polyuria.Investigation. A review of the Johns Hopkins Hospital surgical records from 1896-1912 on a patient with hypopituitarism secondary to a suprasellar mass, in whom the first documented pituitary gland transplantation was performed.Diagnosis. A diagnosis of hypopituitarism was made. Postmortem examination revealed a cystic cavity lined with squamous epithelium.Management. The patient was treated with whole-gland pituitary extract, which improved his symptoms only temporarily. Cushing transplanted a pituitary gland obtained from a spontaneously aborted fetus into the cerebral cortex of the patient, who showed marked improvement of his somnolence and confusion, whereas his polyuria and polydypsia persisted. A recurrence of symptoms after 6 weeks prompted Cushing to attempt a second transplant of a fetal pituitary gland, without improvement. The patient resumed hormonal supplementation with whole-gland pituitary extract, but died a month after the second transplant from respiratory complications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism