Corticotropin- and thyrotropin-secreting pituitary microadenomas: Detection by dynamic magnetic resonance imaging

Robert C. Smallridge, Leo F. Czervionke, Col Douglas W. Fellows, Maj Victor J. Bernet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Hormone-secreting pituitary microadenomas are often not visible on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Diagnosis requires confirmatory endocrine test results and often an invasive procedure, inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS). Improved pituitary imaging may eliminate the need for IPSS in some patients, as shown in the 2 women in this report. The first patient with hirsutism, weight gain, and hypertension had intermittent elevations of urinary free cortisol, abnormal results on a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test, and positive results on a dexamethasone-suppressed-ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone test (corticotropin, increase of 122%; cortisol, increase of 118%). Gadolinium-enhanced MRI showed no focal lesion, but dynamic MRI (sequential images beginning immediately after contrast injection) revealed a right-sided 5-mm microadenoma, confirmed by transsphenoidal surgery. The second patient had a goiter, anxiety, increased free thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels, and a normal thyrotropin value with no response to thyrotropin-releasing hormone. Magnetic resonance imaging showed no lesion, but dynamic MRI detected an 8-mm microadenoma. Although about 8% to 10% of healthy persons have incidental pituitary lesions that are 3 mm or larger on MRI, identification of a distinct lesion and positive results on a dexamethasone-suppressed ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone test should decrease the probability of a false-positive result on an imaging study. We recommend that dynamic MRI be performed in any patient with a suspected microadenoma, before IPSS is performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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