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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Jul;84(7):2408-13.

Growth hormone deficiency with ectopic neurohypophysis: anatomical variations and relationship between the visibility of the pituitary stalk asserted by magnetic resonance imaging and anterior pituitary function.

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Pediatric Endocrinology-Diabetology Unit, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France.


In GH-deficient children showing ectopic posterior pituitary hyperintense signal (EPP), the anatomical details of the pituitary-hypothalamic region and the relationship between the visibility of the pituitary stalk and anterior pituitary function were studied by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The absence or presence of the pituitary stalk was recorded by MRI before and after the injection of gadolinium in 25 children with GH deficiency and EPP at the age of 8.7+/-5.0 yr (16 males and 9 females). Patients were classified into 2 groups according to the presence (group 1; n = 14), or the absence (group 2; n = 11) of pituitary stalk visibility after gadolinium injection. Most patients in group 1 (12 of 14) demonstrated isolated GH deficiency, whereas all but 1 patient in group 2 showed multiple anterior pituitary hormone deficiency. The prevalence of a normally sized adenohypophysis was higher in group 1 than in group 2 (50% vs. 9%; P<0.05). Although the EPP was found at the median eminence in all group 2 patients, it was visualized in group 1 at different levels of the pituitary stalk in 60% of cases (8 of 14; at the proximal end of the pituitary stalk, n = 4; in the middle of the pituitary stalk, n = 2; at the distal end of the pituitary stalk, n = 2). This demonstrates that the ectopic posterior pituitary migration abnormality may be complete or partial. In conclusion, although the pathogenesis of GH deficiency with EPP remains unclear, these results suggest that in cases of GH deficiency associated with ectopic posterior pituitary hyperintense signal, patients with no visible pituitary stalk on MRI after gadolinium injection present a more severe form of the disease in childhood associated with multiple anterior pituitary hormone deficiency, whereas visibility of the pituitary stalk is related to isolated GH deficiency. Nevertheless, careful follow-up of these latter patients is necessary, as the natural history of the disease is not established until adulthood.

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