Send to

Choose Destination
Acta Radiol. 2006 Oct;47(8):865-71.

Computed tomography of the human pineal gland for study of the sleep-wake rhythm: reproducibility of a semi-quantitative approach.

Author information

Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany.



To propose a semi-quantitative computed tomography (CT) protocol for determining uncalcified pineal tissue (UCPT), and to evaluate its reproducibility in modification of studies showing that the degree of calcification is a potential marker of deficient melatonin production and may prove an instability marker of circadian rhythm.


Twenty-two pineal gland autopsy specimens were scanned in a skull phantom with different slice thickness twice and the uncalcified tissue visually assessed using a four-point scale. The maximum gland density was measured and its inverse graded on a non-linear four-point scale. The sum of both scores was multiplied by the gland volume to yield the UCPT. The within-subject variance of UCPT was determined and compared between scans of different slice thickness.


The UCPT of the first measurement, in arbitrary units, was 39+/-52.5 for 1 mm slice thickness, 44+/-51.1 for 2 mm, 45+/-34.8 for 4 mm, and 84+/-58.0 for 8 mm. Significant differences of within-subject variance of UCPT were found between 1 and 4 mm, 1 and 8 mm, and 2 and 8 mm slice thicknesses (P<0.05).


A superior reproducibility of the semi-quantitative CT determination of UCPT was found using 1 and 2 mm slice thicknesses. These data support the use of thin slices of 1 and 2 mm. The benefit in reproducibility from thin slices has to be carefully weighted against their considerably higher radiation exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center