Object. The empty sella syndrome (ESS) is well documented in adults, and although the same phenomenon of herniation of the arachnoid space into the enlarged sella turcica has been noted in children, it is not widely known that children suffer from this syndrome. Therefore, the aims of this paper are to increase neurosurgeons' awareness of the existence of this phenomenon in children and to add to the scant body of literature on the subject.
Methods. The authors treated 12 children, ranging in age between 2 and 8 years, in whom neuroradiological studies demonstrated an enlarged sella turcica filled with cerebrospinal fluid and herniation of suprasellar and arachnoid spaces. The causes of ESS in these children were high intracranial pressure, neglected or improperly treated hydrocephalus, and suprasellar arachnoid cyst. Primary ESS was found as well. Most of the children presented with headache, abnormal body weight (the majority being underweight), and short stature. The results of hormone assays were normal in all children.
Conclusions. If undiagnosed and untreated, ESS in children may lead to serious consequences, including impairment of pituitary and hypothalamic function and damage to the optic chiasm. It is important to raise awareness in the neurosurgical community about the existence of ESS in children so that it can be diagnosed and treated at an early stage. A classification system for the diaphragma sellae is recapitulated.