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Collision sellar lesions: coexistence of pituitary adenoma and Rathke cleft cyst—a single-center experience

  • Annelise de Almeida Verdolin
  • Elisa Baranski Lamback
  • Nina Ventura
  • André Guasti
  • Paulo José da Mata Pereira
  • Mônica R. Gadelha
  • Leila ChimelliEmail author
Original Article



Collision sellar lesions represent the coexistence of distinct histopathological lesions found in the sella turcica. They are uncommon entities and have mainly been reported as pituitary adenoma (PA) associated to Rathke cleft cyst (RCC). Pre- and perioperative diagnosis is difficult, since most of the cases appear clinically, radiologically, and macroscopically as solitary cystic sellar lesion.


A retrospective study of histological reports from patients operated for PA from 2013 to 2018 in a single neurosurgery reference center was performed. Patients who also exhibited RCC in the histological sections were included. Clinical and biochemical data were collected from medical files. MRI scans and histopathological slides were also reviewed.


Among 554 PA, five patients (0.9%) presented the association of PA and RCC. At diagnosis, patients had median age of 60 years (33–78) with, at least, one pituitary dysfunction, and visual field loss and/or headache. There was a female predominance (n = 3). All patients had nonfunctioning PA. MRI studies showed a predominantly cystic lesion and were unable to distinguish both lesions. The definitive diagnosis was made by histopathology.


The association of PA and RCC is extremely rare. On MRI, they appear as a solid-cystic or cystic sellar tumors. RCC can rupture causing granulomatous reaction with cholesterol crystal formation, which can be mistaken for craniopharyngiomas during surgery. Therefore, collision sellar lesion must be included in the differential diagnosis of cystic sellar lesions. The definitive diagnosis is made by histological study.


Pituitary adenoma Rathke cleft cyst Collision sellar lesions Cystic sellar lesions Cholesterol crystals 



This work is dedicated to all those who have made this study possible: patients, endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, histotechnicians, pathologists, and employees of the Instituto Estadual do Cérebro.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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. This study was approved by the Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer Research and Ethics Committee (protocol 223–15).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pathology DivisionInstituto Nacional do CancerRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Neuroendocrinology Research Center/Endocrinology Division, Medical School and Hospital Universitário Clementino Fraga FilhoUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Radiology DivisionInstituto Estadual do Cérebro Paulo NiemeyerRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Neurosurgery DivisionInstituto Estadual do Cérebro Paulo NiemeyerRio de JaneiroBrazil
  5. 5.Neuroendocrinology DivisionInstituto Estadual do Cérebro Paulo NiemeyerRio de JaneiroBrazil
  6. 6.Neuropathology and Molecular Genetics LaboratoryInstituto Estadual do Cérebro Paulo NiemeyerRio de JaneiroBrazil

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