Prevalence of pituitary cysts in children using modern magnetic resonance imaging techniques
Pituitary pars intermedia/Rathke cleft cysts or cyst-like structures are commonly encountered in children undergoing brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), especially when examinations include thin-section, high-resolution sequences.
To determine the prevalence of pituitary cystic lesions in children at our institution using modern MRI technique, to assess for associated endocrinopathy and to address the need for follow-up.
Materials and methods
We retrospectively reviewed 232 consecutive 1.5- and 3-T brain MRIs in children ages 0–18 years (mean: 8.3±5.3 years). We evaluated 3-D volumetric T1 spoiled gradient echo (SPGR) and axial T2-weighted sequences. Pituitary glands were evaluated for the presence, size and signal characteristics of cysts. Cyst volumes were measured in three orthogonal planes. Endocrine abnormalities were documented from the medical record.
Pituitary cysts were present in 57.7% of children (n=134), with a mean linear measurement of 3.6±1.17 mm (range: 0.4 to 12.3 mm). The overwhelming majority of cysts were hyopointense on T1-W images (n=121, 90%) and isointense on T2-W images relative to the adenohypophysis (n=106, 79%). T1 hyperintense and T2 hypointense signals were present in a minority, 6.7% and 8%, respectively. Most cysts were occult on post-contrast T1-W images (n=24, 77%). Endocrine abnormalities were present in 2/134 (1.5%) of children with cysts (these were unrelated to the pituitary gland) versus 1/98 (1%) children without cysts (P=0.7).
More often than not, pituitary cysts/cyst-like structures can be found incidentally in children using modern MRI techniques. Follow-up is not typically required if there are no associated symptoms or excessive size.
KeywordsChildren Craniopharyngioma Magnetic resonance imaging Pars intermedia cyst Pituitary cyst Pituitary gland Rathke cleft cyst
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
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