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MRI criteria of subtypes of adenomas and epithelial cysts of the pituitary gland

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This study aimed to assess the clinical applicability of MRI criteria for differentiation of pituitary adenomas and cystic pituitary lesions. One hundred ninety-eight consecutive patients with surgical resection of a pituitary adenoma/cystic pituitary lesion were retrospectively analyzed, blinded to clinical data and histopathological diagnosis. Different morphologic criteria were assessed: signal intensity in T2/T1w images, pattern of contrast enhancement, size, super-/infrasellar extension, and invasion of the cavernous sinus. For validation of the criteria, a second independent patient cohort (n = 102) was analyzed for diagnostic accuracy of the criteria. We identified differences between subtypes of pituitary adenomas regarding morphological MRI criteria. Especially, ACTH-producing adenomas and GH-producing adenomas showed partially specific imaging features. Application of our criteria on the second patient cohort (n = 102) did however not significantly improve diagnostic accuracy. Only differentiation between cystic pituitary lesions and adenomas was facilitated using these criteria, but did not reach statistical significance in this cohort (P = 0.352). MRI criteria might facilitate differentiation between pituitary adenomas and cystic pituitary lesions, but not between subtypes of pituitary adenomas. These subtypes show partially specific MR imaging features, however, due to a high variability knowledge of clinical symptoms and laboratory findings remain essential for the correct diagnosis.

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Correspondence to Stefanie Bette.

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Conflict of interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interests; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements) or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge, or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

  • CZ has served on scientific advisory boards for Philips and Bayer-Schering; serves as co-editor on the Advisory Board of Clinical Neuroradiology; has received speaker honoraria from Bayer-Schering and Philips; and has received research support and investigator fees for clinical studies from Biogen Idec, Quintiles, MSD Sharp & Dome, Boehringer Ingelheim, Inventive Health Clinical UK Ltd., Advance Cor, Brainsgate, Pfizer, Bayer-Schering, Novartis, Roche, Servier, Penumbra, WCT GmbH, Syngis, SSS Internartional Clinical Research, PPD Germany GmbH, Worldwide Clinical Trials Ltd., Phenox, Covidien, Actelion, Medivation, Medtronic, Harrison Clinical Research, Concentric, Penumbra, Pharmtrace, Reverse Medical Corp., Premier Research Germany Ltd., Surpass Medical Ltd., and GlaxoSmithKline.

  • SB, JG, and BM work as consultants for Brainlab (Brainlab AG, Munich).

  • JSK has received speaker honoraria from Philips.

  • All named potential conflicts of interest are unrelated to this study.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

For this retrospective non-interventional study, informed consent was waived by the local ethics committee.

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Bette, S., Butenschön, V.M., Wiestler, B. et al. MRI criteria of subtypes of adenomas and epithelial cysts of the pituitary gland. Neurosurg Rev 43, 265–272 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10143-018-1049-7

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  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Pituitary cysts
  • MRI
  • Neuroendocrinology