✓ The authors treated two patients with pituitary apoplexy in whom magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained before and after the episode. Two days after the apoplectic episodes, MR imaging demonstrated marked thickening of the mucosa of the sphenoid sinus that was absent in the previous studies. The relevance of this change in the sphenoid sinus was investigated.
Retrospective evaluations were performed using MR images obtained in 14 consecutive patients with classic pituitary apoplexy characterized by acute onset of severe headache. The mucosa of the sphenoid sinus had thickened predominantly in the compartment just beneath the sella turcica, in nine of 11 patients, as ascertained on MR images obtained within 7 days after the onset of apoplectic symptoms. This condition improved spontaneously in all four patients who did not undergo transsphenoidal surgery. The sphenoid sinus mucosa appeared to be normal on MR images obtained from three patients at the chronic stage (> 3 months after onset). The incidence of sphenoid sinus mucosal thickening during the acute stage was significantly higher in the patients with apoplexy than that in the 100 patients without apoplexy. A histological study conducted in four patients who underwent transsphenoidal surgery during the early stage showed that the subepithelial layer of the sphenoid sinus mucous membrane was obviously swollen.
The sphenoid sinus mucosa thickens during the acute stage of pituitary apoplexy. This thickening neither indicates infectious sinusitis nor rules out the choice of the transsphenoidal route for surgery.