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Kazunori Arita, Atsushi Tominaga, Kazuhiko Sugiyama, Kuniki Eguchi, Koji Iida, Masayuki Sumida, Keisuke Migita, and Kaoru Kurisu

Object

The increase in the incidental detection of asymptomatic pituitary adenomas, known as “pituitary inciden-talomas,” led the authors to conduct a survey of the natural course of these lesions.

Methods

Forty-two patients with clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas who had manifested no neurological or endocrinological disorders were monitored with magnetic resonance imaging studies. The follow-up period ranged from 10.8 to 168.2 months (mean ± standard deviation, 61.9 ± 38.2 months). The mean initial tumor size was 18.3 ± 7 mm.

In 21 patients, the tumor increased by at least 10% of its measured size on detection. This increase was first detected between 8.4 and 58.8 months (mean 31.8 ± 17.6 months) after diagnosis. There was no correlation between the original tumor size, patient age, or the presence of intratumoral cysts and tumor growth. Symptoms were noted in 10 patients during follow up; in four, extensive tumor necrosis accompanied hemorrhage, leading to severe headache, acute ophthalmological symptoms, and panhypopituitarism, which was indicative of pituitary apoplexy. Transsphenoidal surgery was performed in 12 patients with enlarged tumors, including three with apoplexy. With the exception of one apoplectic patient, visual function was recovered in all who underwent surgery. All apoplectic patients continue to manifest hypopituitarism.

Conclusions

In the course of 4 years, the size of the incidentalomas increased in 40% of 42 patients and became symptomatic in 20%. During the 5-year follow up, pituitary apoplexy developed in 9.5%. These findings may justify early intervention, especially in young individuals with incidentally found macroadenoma.

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Seiji Hama, Kazunori Arita, Takashi Nishisaka, Toshiyuki Fukuhara, Atsushi Tominaga, Kazuhiko Sugiyama, Hiroyuki Yoshioka, Kuniki Eguchi, Masayuki Sumida, Yuji Heike, and Kaoru Kurisu

Object. Rathke cleft cysts (RCCs) are composed of tall, well-differentiated, ciliated columnar epithelia. Their structures are altered by hyperplasia or squamous metaplasia, but their cause remains unknown.

Methods. The authors studied pathological findings and anterior pituitary function in 20 patients harboring RCCs. They classified RCC epithelium as either single (a single ciliated columnar cell lining or a flattened cuboidal cell lining) or stratified (a stratified ciliated columnar cell lining, basal cell hyperplasia, columnar cell hyperplasia, or squamous metaplasia). Inflammation was classified as acute, subacute, chronic, or end stage.

The epithelial cell lining was observed in 13 specimens obtained during surgery (six specimens contained single and seven contained stratified epithelia). Inflammation had penetrated the cyst epithelium or subjacent stroma in 10 patients, and the stage of inflammation correlated well with the type of epithelia group: early stages of inflammation in the single epithelium group and chronic or end-stage inflammation in the stratified epithelia (p = 0.0027). The adenohypophysis was identified in 21 surgical specimens. Postoperatively, growth hormone (p = 0.019), cortisol (p = 0.027), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (p = 0.039) responses significantly worsened as the inflammation progressed. The presence of diabetes insipidus correlated well with advanced stages of neurohypophysitis (p = 0.025).

Conclusions. Epithelial stratification in the RCC is caused by inflammation that may extend into the adjacent adenohypophysis or neurohypophysis and overwhelm the hypophysis, resulting in panhypopituitarism. Transsphenoidal excision may represent the best choice for treatment, at least for cases of RCC in which there is partial impairment of hypophysial function.