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Salomon Cohen-Cohen, Ahmed Helal, Ziying Yin, Matthew K. Ball, Richard L. Ehman, Jamie J. Van Gompel, and John Huston III


Pituitary adenoma is one of the most common primary intracranial neoplasms. Most of these tumors are soft, but up to 17% may have a firmer consistency. Therefore, knowing the tumor consistency in the preoperative setting could be helpful. Multiple imaging methods have been proposed to predict tumor consistency, but the results are controversial. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of MR elastography (MRE) in predicting tumor consistency and its potential use in a series of patients with pituitary adenomas.


Thirty-eight patients with pituitary adenomas (≥ 2.5 cm) were prospectively evaluated with MRI and MRE before surgery. Absolute MRE stiffness values and relative MRE stiffness ratios, as well as the relative ratio of T1 signal, T2 signal, and diffusion-weighted imaging apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values were determined prospectively by calculating the ratio of those values in the tumor to adjacent left temporal white matter. Tumors were classified into three groups according to surgical consistency (soft, intermediate, and firm). Statistical analysis was used to identify the predictive value of the different radiological parameters in determining pituitary adenoma consistency.


The authors included 32 (84.21%) nonfunctional and 6 (15.79%) functional adenomas. The mean maximum tumor diameter was 3.7 cm, and the mean preoperative tumor volume was 16.4 cm3. Cavernous sinus invasion was present in 20 patients (52.63%). A gross-total resection was possible in 9 (23.68%) patients. The entire cohort’s mean absolute tumor stiffness value was 1.8 kPa (range 1.1–3.7 kPa), whereas the mean tumor stiffness ratio was 0.66 (range 0.37–1.6). Intraoperative tumor consistency was significantly correlated with absolute and relative tumor stiffness (p = 0.0087 and 0.007, respectively). Tumor consistency alone was not a significant factor for predicting gross-total resection. Patients with intermediate and firm tumors had more complications compared to patients with soft tumors (50.00% vs 12.50%, p = 0.02) and also had longer operative times (p = 0.0002).


Whereas other MRI sequences have proven to be unreliable in determining tumor consistency, MRE has been shown to be a reliable tool for predicting adenoma consistency. Preoperative knowledge of tumor consistency could be potentially useful for surgical planning, counseling about potential surgical risks, and estimating the length of operative time.