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Simmonds' syndrome

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Pituitary disorder due to trauma, vascular lesions or tumours, characterised by panhypopituitarism, a form of hypopituitarism in which all pituitary secretions are deficient. This causes dwarfism, loss of function of the thyroid, adrenals, and gonads, loss of menstruation, shrinkage of the breasts and suppression of milk secretion, premature senility, lowering of the metabolic rate, psychic symptoms, and cachexia. Other features include weight loss, loss of body hair, atrophic skin giving the appearance of premature ageing, lessened resistance to infection and shock. Occurs more commonly in female.

Recognition that the clinical features were associated with destruction of the anterior lobe was first described by Simmonds in 1914 on the bases of one patient with extreme cachexia. Reye in 1928 and Sheehan in 1937 first described the complete disease picture.

Simmonds syndrome is unrelated to postpartum complications. The terms Glinski syndrome, Reye syndrome and Sheehan syndrome apply to necrosis of the pituitary during the postpartum period.


  • L. K. Glinski:
    Z kazuistiky zmian anatomo-patologicznych w paszysadce mózgomej.
    Przeglad lekarski, Krakow, 1913, 52: 13-14.
    Abstract in Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 1913, 39: 473.
  • M. Simmonds:
    Über Hypophysisschwund mit tödlichem Ausgang.
    Deutsche medicinische Wochenschrift, Berlin, 1914, 40: 322-323.
  • E. Reye:
    Die ersten klinischen Symptome bei Schwund des Hypophysenvorderlappens (Simmondssche Krankheit) und ihre erfolgreiche Behandlung.
    Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift, Stuttgart, 1928, 54: 696.
  • H. L. Sheehan:
    Postpartum necrosis of anterior pituitary.
    Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, Chichester, 1937, 45: 189-214.
  • H. L. Sheehan:
  • Simmond’s disease due to post-partum necrosis of anterior pituitary.
    Quarterly Journal of Medicine, Oxford, 1939,, 8: 277. H. L. Sheehan:
    Post-partum necrosis of anterior pituitary.

Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, Chichester, 1937, 45: 189-214.

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