Structural features

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* Paired retroperitoneal organs, in close proximity to the superior poles of the kidneys, anterior to the diaphragmatic crura at D11 level. The right gland is pyramidal in shape, and the left gland semilunar.

Anterior pituitary function testing

Indirect, i.e. tests of end-organ function: plasma T4 (TSH); plasma cortisol (ACTH);

ovulation (LH, FSH); spermatogenesis (LH, FSH).

Direct, static: plasma levels of ACTH, TSH, LH, FSH, GH, PRL.

Direct, dynamic: TSH (ivTRH); LH, FSH (ivGnRH); ACTH (insulin hypoglycaemia); GH (stimulation: sleep; iv arginine; insulin hypoglycaemia); PRL (iv TRH). Combined sequential stimuli testing with a triple intravenous bolus of hormones: soluble insulin (0.15 unit/kg); TRH (200 mg) and GnRH (100 mg). This involves venous blood sampling for glucose, cortisol, GH, LH, FSH, PRL and TSH prior to administration, and at 20, 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120 minutes thereafter.

5 * Each gland weighs 5-10 g in the adult and measures 4-5 cm in length, 2-3 cm

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