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J Magn Reson Imaging. 2000 Dec;12(6):808-13.

MR imaging of pituitary morphology in idiopathic intracranial hypertension.

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Department of Radiology, The University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


The aim of this study was to investigate the morphologic changes of the pituitary gland in patients with the clinical diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). Qualitative and quantitative analyses of pituitary morphology were performed in normal subjects (n = 23), patients with the clinical diagnosis of IIH (n = 40), and patients with acute increased intracranial pressure (AICP; n = 37) caused by acute head trauma. The loss of pituitary height (concavity) on the sagittal T1-weighted image was classified into five categories: I = normal, II = superior concavity that was mild (<(1/3) the height of the sella), III = moderate (between (1/3) and (2/3) concavity of height of sella), IV = severe (>(2/3) concavity of height of sella), and V = empty sella. The area ratio of pituitary gland to sella turcica measured in the midsagittal plane was quantified. Clinical records were retrospectively reviewed to correlate with magnetic resonance (MR) findings. Using moderate concavity (>(1/3)) as the minimum criterion for abnormality, IIH patients had an 85% incidence of morphologic changes with 80% sensitivity and 92% specificity. Empty sella (almost complete concavity of the sella) was found in only 2.5% of patients with IIH. Quantitative analysis of the pituitary gland/sella turcica area ratio showed a significant decrease in patients with IIH (P < 0.0001) but no significant difference between the normal subjects and AICP patients. A posterior deviation of the pituitary stalk was seen in 43% of patients. No enlargement of the ventricles or sulcal effacement was seen in IIH patients. Routine brain MR examination of patients with IIH frequently shows morphologic changes of the pituitary gland ranging from various degrees of concavity to (rarely) the extreme case of an empty sella. The etiology is unknown and may be related to the severity and duration of elevated CSF pressure. Such findings may be useful to facilitate the diagnosis of IIH, particularly in patients with equivocal clinical findings or when IIH is not suspected. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2000;12:808-813.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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