Cushing’s disease is caused by adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)–secreting pituitary adenomas, which are often difficult to identify on standard 1.5-T or 3-T MRI, including dynamic contrast imaging. Inferior petrosal and cavernous sinus sampling remains the gold standard for MRI-negative Cushing’s disease.
The authors report on a 27-year-old woman with Cushing’s disease in whom the results of standard 1.5-T and 3-T MRI, including 1.5-T dynamic contrast imaging, were negative. Inferior petrosal sinus sampling showed a high central-to-peripheral ACTH ratio (148:1) as well as a right-to-left ACTH gradient (19:1), suggesting a right-sided pituitary microadenoma. The patient underwent 7-T MRI, which showed evidence of a right-sided pituitary lesion with focal hypoenhancement not visualized on 1.5-T or 3-T MRI. The patient underwent an endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal operation, with resection of a right-sided pituitary mass. Postoperatively, she developed clinical symptoms suggestive of adrenal insufficiency and a nadir cortisol level of 1.6 μg/dl on postoperative day 3, and hydrocortisone therapy was initiated. Permanent histopathology specimens showed Crooke’s hyaline change and ACTH-positive cells suggestive of an adenoma.
MRI at 7 T may be beneficial in identifying pituitary microadenoma location in cases of standard 1.5-T and 3-T MRI-negative Cushing’s disease. In the future, 7-T MRI may preempt inferior petrosal sinus sampling and help in cases of standard and dynamic contrast 1.5-T and 3-T MRI-negative Cushing’s disease.