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The prevalence of structural pituitary abnormalities by MRI scanning in men presenting with isolated hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism

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  • MRI HH 221212 submission - final

    Rights statement: This is the author's peer-reviewed manuscript as accepted for publication

    Accepted author manuscript, 110 KB, Word document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)858–861
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number6
Early online date6 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


Objective Hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism (HH) is commonly associated with ageing, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The indications for pituitary imaging are controversial, and current guidelines are based on small case series. Design Retrospective case series from a secondary/tertiary endocrinology referral centre. Patients All men presenting to the Edinburgh Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes with hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism (testosterone <10 nmol/l and normal prolactin) from 2006 to 2013, in whom pituitary MRI was performed (n = 281). All HH patients referred in 2011 (n = 86) were reviewed to assess differences between those selected for pituitary MRI and those who were not scanned. Results Pituitary MRI was normal in 235 men (83·6%), with 24 microadenomas (8·5%), 5 macroadenomas (1·8%) and 1 craniopharyngioma (0·4%) identified. The remaining 16 (5·7%) comprised a range of minor pituitary abnormalities including small cysts and empty sella. All men with abnormal imaging studies had otherwise normal pituitary function. Imaging abnormalities were associated with a significantly lower age at presentation (50 vs 54 years, P = 0·02), but no differences in testosterone or gonadotrophin levels were observed. Current Endocrine Society guidelines would have prompted imaging in only three of six patients with significant pituitary pathology. Conclusions Structural pituitary disease is more common in isolated HH than in the general population, and current guidelines do not accurately identify ‘at-risk’ individuals. Full anterior pituitary function testing has a low yield in patients presenting with hypogonadism. The optimal strategy for determining the need for pituitary imaging remains uncertain.

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