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Sheehan's syndrome

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Hypopituitarism resulting from an infarct of the pituitary following postpartum shock or haemorrhage. Damage to the anterior pituitary gland causes partial or complete loss of thyroid, adrenocortical, and gonadal function.

The complete concept of the syndrome was well reviewed by Sheehan in 1937. He emphasised that during pregnancy the pituitary becomes enlarged, but its blood supply becomes diminished during childbirth and it is particularly susceptible to thrombosis. Reports indicate that the syndrome occurs more frequently than is usually recognised.

The eponyms and synonyms mentioned above cover both the Sheehan and the Simmonds syndrome, which are two entities. The terms Glinski syndrome, Reye syndrome and Sheehan syndrome applies to necrosis of the pituitary during the postpartum period; Simmonds syndrome refers to a similar condition which may occur in both sexes and is unrelated to postpartum complications.


  • L. K. Glinski:
    Z kazuistiky zmian anatomopatologicznych w paszysadce mózgomej.
    Przeglad lekarski, Krakow, 1913, 52: 13-14.
    Abstract in Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 1913, 39: 473.
  • M. Simmonds:
    Über Hypophysischwund mit tödlichem Ausgang.
    Deutsche medizinische 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:
    Post-partum necrosis of anterior pituitary.
    The 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.

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