News & Events

Combining Expertise to Help Patients with Hormonal Disorders


Patients with hormonal disorders stemming from glands in the brain, including non-cancerous pituitary tumors, have a new way to conveniently access the world-class treatment options available at Tufts Medical Center.  Ronald Lechan, MD, PhD, Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Carl Heilman, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery, recently combined the expertise in their two departments to establish the Neuroendocrine and Pituitary Program.

Patients referred to the program are brought in within one to two weeks of referral. Tufts MC physicians find answers using the state-of-the-art equipment in the recently renovated Neely Neuroscience Center. “By using cutting edge equipment like our 3T MRI, we are able to perform dynamic gadolinium perfusion imaging that can identify tiny pituitary microadenomas that otherwise would be hard to see,” says Heilman.

Team Approach Keeps Patient Needs First

After receiving a pituitary disease diagnosis, patients often see the Tufts MC medical team for careful treatments such as hormone replacement.

“An advantage of our program is that patients will see a neuroendocrinologist and a neurosurgeon in the same day,” says Lechan. “This way, the workup and treatment can be expedited so that we can provide patients with the care they need as soon as possible. It also saves our patients from making multiple trips to our Boston campus.”

When surgery is needed, Tufts MC doctors use the gentlest methods possible. “Our expertise in endovascular neuro-interventional procedures allows us to perform complex surgeries including petrosal sinus venous sampling for patients with Cushing’s disease but no visible tumor on MRI,” says Heilman, who was the first physician in New England to use endoscopic pituitary surgery.

Working together as co-directors, Lechan and Heilman have created a team of physicians, surgeons, radiologists and world-leading eye and brain specialists who work together to provide treatment plans custom designed for each patient.

State of the Art Care from World Class Teams

Julian K. Wu, MD and John Mignano, MD, PhD, Co-Directors of the Boston Gamma Knife Center provide conventional radiation therapy or Gamma Knife radiosurgery when pituitary tumors are hard to get to or keep coming back. Gamma Knife treatment uses radiation in a very exact way that doesn’t hurt normal, healthy tissue while hitting unhealthy tissue with high doses of radiation. Tufts Medical Center is the first and only Gamma Knife Center in Massachusetts and Northern New England.

The program also provides follow-up with eye doctors because of the closeness of the pituitary gland to the parts of the brain connected to the eyes. Thomas R. Hedges III, MD, Director of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service and neuro-ophthalmologist Geetha Athappilly MD provide visual field, eye function, and optic nerve tests to monitor patients with pituitary disease for possible damage to the eye/brain connection.

“Results for patients with pituitary diseases are improved when these teams are all involved and working together,” said Heilman.

The physicians in the Neuroendocrine and Pituitary Program are in the top of their field. All eight physicians in this program were named on U.S. News and World Report’s most recent list of “Top Doctors.”

To learn more about the Neuroendocrine and Pituitary Program, please call 617-636-5860.