Anterior and Posterior Lobes of the Pituitary Gland; Assessment by 1.5 T MR Imaging

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Pituitary glands of 60 normal volunteers (30 men 20–36 years old, and 30 women 18–42 years old) were studied by 1.5 T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The T1-weighted images (T1WI) [repetition time (TR) = 400 ms; echo time (TE) = 25 ms] were obtained in the coronal, sagittal, and axial planes. Proton density (PD)/T2-weighted images (PDW1/T2WI) (TR = 2,000 ms; TE = 25/100 ms) were obtained in the sagittal plane using 3 mm slice thickness. On T1WIs of all subjects the posterior part (PP) of the pituitary fossa showed the highest signal, which was indistinguishable from fatty tissue. This study reveals that this region of high signal intensity (PP) corresponds to the posterior lobe and not intrasellar fat because (a) its shape, size, and position are compatible with the posterior lobe; (b) its signal intensity differs from that of fatty tissue on PDWI and T2WI; (c) the absence of an intrinsic chemical shift artifact (CSA) characteristic of fat; and (d) due to CSA, a dorsum with fatty marrow is shifted relative to the PP (or may be made to merge with it). Regarding the differentiation of the two lobes of the pituitary gland on MR, the morphology of the anterior and posterior lobes was evaluated and great variation found. Appreciation of normal is particularly important in evaluating coronal images for small pituitary lesions.

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