Find your care
How long does the pituitary surgery take?
- Most patients are in the operating room for 3-4 hours, although occasionally it can take longer or may be even shorter. If the time goes over 4 hours, do not be alarmed. The staff will keep your family updated as the operation proceeds.
How many days will I be in the hospital?
- We anticipate that you will be able to go home the day after surgery. On the morning after surgery, we will assess you to make sure it is safe for you to go home, and let you know if you will require an additional night or two in the hospital.
What do I need to know about discharge from the hospital?
- Check -out time is before 11 a.m. (just like a hotel).
- If you are being discharged to home, it is important that you make arrangements for someone to pick you up before 11 a.m.
Will there be much pain or discomfort?
- Most patients experience mild to moderate discomfort for several days after surgery. The amount of discomfort varies from patient to patient, with some requiring only mild pain medications for a day or two whereas a minority of patients require pain medications for several weeks. We will make every effort to minimize your discomfort.
Can a family member stay with me overnight in the hospital?
- All hospital beds at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center are private rooms. Regular (ward) rooms include a day bed where one family member can sleep. The UCLA Tiverton House (reservations required) is two blocks away from the hospital, and has suites and a free shuttle.
What can I expect when I go home from the hospital?
- We recommend that you have someone with you at home for at least one week after surgery. You will not be allowed to drive a car during that time.
- You will feel fatigued and require more rest than usual.
- Because there will be some packing in your nose, you may not be able to breath through your nose. Most patients lose their sense of smell for a couple of weeks, so food will appear to be more bland than usual.
- There may be some bleeding from your nose, as well as scab formation (called "crusting").
What restrictions will I have when I go home?
- You will need to take it easy for several weeks after surgery. We will give you specific instructions at the time of discharge, but in general, we ask most patients not to lift anything heavy or strain for at least 4 weeks after surgery.
When will I be able to return to work?
- Most patients are able to return to fulltime employment ~4 weeks after surgery. This time period will vary depending upon your age, general physical condition, and type of work that you do. On your first post-operative visit, we will discuss with you the likely date for which you can return to work.
What do I do about disability paperwork?
- Please obtain the necessary paperwork from your employer, and fill out your part. We will be happy to fill out the rest and mail it for you. Most patients are given between 4 - 6 weeks of disability.
How will I know what to do when I go home?
- You will be given detailed Discharge Instructions, including verbal instructions by your nurse as well as a packet of written information and instructions.
Do I have to do any tests after surgery?
- Yes. One of the functions of the pituitary gland is water balance in your body, and this can be temporary disturbed after surgery. You will be asked to go to a laboratory for a blood draw between 4 - 7 days after discharge. It is very important that the results of this test be made immediately available to Dr. Heaney (or the UCLA Endocrinology Fellow if Dr. Heaney is not your endocrinologist). We want to make sure your sodium level in your blood is within normal limits.
When will the follow-up appointments occur?
- Post-operative appointments typically occur between 7 - 14 days after your discharge date. These appointments can be arranged ahead of time or while in the hospital (dial 64100 from your hospital room phone). You will need to see your Neurosurgeon, Head and Neck surgeon, and endocrinologist. We can usually coordinate your care so that all three appointments take place on the same day.
- The visit with your Head and Neck surgeon will involve gentle cleansing ("debridement") of your nasal cavity, and in some cases, removal of nasal packing. This may be associated with brief discomfort, but most patients feel immediately better because they are less congested and able to breath better.
When will I receive the pathology results?
- These will be discussed with you on your first post-operative visit.
Any other questions?
- We will be happy to answer your questions regarding your upcoming surgery.
- During regular working hours, your doctor's office will be able to answer your questions.
- For non-urgent questions, you can email them at [email protected].
- If you have an urgent question and it is after hours or a weekend, call the UCLA page operator at 310-825-6301 and ask to have your doctor contacted. In many cases, the resident physician on duty will be able to answer your questions.