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Indian J Pediatr. 1995 Sep-Oct;62(5):597-603.

Empty sella in short children with and without hypothalamic-pituitary abnormalities.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Royal Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.


A study was conducted on growth hormone (GH) response to oral clonidine (0.15 mg/m2), GH and cortisol responses to i.m. glucagon (0.1 mg/kg), and glucose response to an oral load of glucose (1.75 g/kg). Measurements were made on the circulating concentrations of free thyroxine (FT4), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and different growth parameters and CT sellar images in 25 GH deficient children (Peak GH response to clonidine and glucagon < 7 ug/ml), 15 growth retarded children (Ht < 5th percentile for age and gender) with sickle cell disease (SCD) and GH deficiency, 30 randomly selected children with normal variant short stature (NVSS) (HtSDS 2SD below the mean for age and gender with normal GH response to stimulation (> 10 ug/ml) and 20 age-matched normal children were evaluated. Out of the 25 children with GH deficiency, five had multiple pituitary hormonal deficiency (GH < TSH and/or ACTH. deficiencies), and 20 had isolated GH deficiency. Empty sella, either complete or partial, was detected in 9 out the 20 children with isolated GH deficiency (45%), 4 out of the 5 children with multiple pituitary deficiency (80%), all the children with SCD and GH deficiency (100%), 3 out of the 30 children with NVSS (10%) and in none of the normal children. The insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) concentrations were significantly lower in the two groups of children with GH deficiency compared to those with NVSS. The height standard deviation scores (HTSDS) were significantly lower and the annual growth velocity was slower in children with idiopathic GH deficiency and empty sella compared to those with NVSS and those with empty sella associated with SCD. The bone age delay (yr) did not differ among the 3 groups of children with short stature. All children with isolated GH deficiency associated with empty sella had normal body mass indices (BMI), while all the children with SCD and empty sella had BMI below the 5th percentile for the corresponding age and gender. None of the children had glucose intolerance. In conclusion, children with growth retardation and abnormal hypothalamic pituitary functions have high incidence of empty sella. However, empty sella is detected in considerable number (10%) of short children with normal hypothalamic pituitary function.

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