, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 379–383 | Cite as

Presence of the posterior pituitary bright spot sign on MRI in the general population: a comparison between 1.5 and 3T MRI and between 2D-T1 spin-echo- and 3D-T1 gradient-echo sequences

  • Verena Klyn
  • Sven Dekeyzer
  • Ruth Van Eetvelde
  • Pieter Roels
  • Ortwin Vergauwen
  • Pieter Devolder
  • Martin Wiesmann
  • Eric Achten
  • Omid Nikoubashman



To describe the prevalence of the posterior pituitary bright spot (PPBS) in the general population on 1.5 and 3T MRI examinations and on 2D-T1 spin-echo (SE) and 3D-T1 gradient-echo (GE) sequences.

Materials and methods

1017 subjects who received an MRI of the brain for aspecific neurological complaints were included. MRI was performed on 1.5T in 64.5% and on 3T in 35.5% of subjects. Presence of the PPBS was evaluated on sagittal 2D T1-SE echo images with slice thickness 3 mm in 67.5% and on sagittal 3D T1-GE with slice thickness 0.9 mm in 32.5% of subjects.


The PPBS was detectable in 95.9% of subjects. After correction for sex and age, no statistically significant difference could be seen concerning PPBS detection between 1.5 and 3T MRI examinations (p = 0.533), nor between 2D T1-SE and 3D T1-GE sequences (p = 0.217). There was a statistically significant association between increasing age and the absence of the PPBS (p < 0.001). The PPBS could not be identified in 6.2% of male subjects, compared to 2.2% of female subjects (p = 0.01).


Absence of the PPBS can be seen in 4.1% of patients undergoing MRI of the brain for non-endocrinological reasons. Neither field-strength nor the use of a thick-sliced 2D T1-SE versus a thin-sliced 3D T1-GE sequence influenced the detectability of the PPBS. There is a statistically significant association between increasing age and male sex and the absence of the PPBS.


Pituitary bright spot MRI Posterior pituitary Vasopressin 



3D-magnetization prepared rapid gradient-echo


Anti-diuretic hormone


Posterior pituitary bright spot


T1-spin echo



The authors would like to thank Dr. M. Van Bockstal (Department of Anatomic Pathology, UZ Gent, Belgium) for her help with the statistical analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Martin Wiesmann has received grants from Stryker Neurovascular. Siemens Healthcare, personal fees from Stryker Neurovascular. Silkroad Medical. Siemens Healthcare. Bracco, and non-financial support from Codman Neurovascular. Covidien. Abbott. St. Jude Medical. Phenox. Penumbra. Microvention/Terumo. B. Braun. Bayer. Acandis. ab medica. The other authors have nothing to disclose.

Ethical approval

For this type of study formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

This is a retrospective imaging analysis and patients cannot be identified based on the data and images provided, so no informed consent was obtained.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional NeuroradiologyRWTH University Hospital AachenAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Medical ImagingOnze-Lieve-Vrouw Ziekenhuis AalstAalstBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Medical ImagingUniversity Hospital (UZ) GhentGhentBelgium

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