Sella turcica morphology and the pituitary gland-a new contribution to craniofacial diagnostics based on histology and neuroradiology

Eur J Orthod. 2015 Feb;37(1):28-36. doi: 10.1093/ejo/cjs091. Epub 2012 Nov 16.


The present review summarizes two decades of published and unpublished studies on normal and pathological development of sella turcica and pituitary gland in humans. The pathological conditions are studied in known genotype deviations, syndromes, and other malformations. The studies include histological analyses of human prenatal material and profile radiographic analyses of human postnatal material, supplemented in a few cases with neuroradiology. Prenatal and postnatal results are compared. Similarities between prenatal and postnatal deviations in sella turcica morphology were demonstrated. Malformations in the pituitary gland were observed in several cases. For diagnostic purposes, the review distinguishes between deviations in the anterior wall and in the posterior wall of the sella turcica. Deviations in the anterior wall seem to be associated with deviations specifically in the frontonasal developmental field, while deviations in the posterior wall are often connected with malformations in the posterior structures, e.g. the cerebellum. In normal cases, minor variations in morphology are observed. In each pathological case, a specific malformation pattern was observed in sella turcica morphology, varying from mild to severe phenotype. The malformation in the sella turcica/pituitary gland can be associated with a malformation within a developmental field that forms the craniofacial region (frontonasal, maxillary, palatal, and mandibular fields), sometimes also involving the brain stem, thymus, thyroid, and heart (velocardiofacial syndrome). Pathological sella turcica morphology can also be associated with malformations in the cerebellum and larynx (Cri-du-Chat syndrome). This review demonstrates the value of combining profile radiographic diagnostics with neuroradiological diagnostics in cases with malformed sella turcicae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnostic imaging
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / pathology
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / diagnostic imaging
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / pathology
  • Humans
  • Pituitary Gland / abnormalities*
  • Pituitary Gland / diagnostic imaging
  • Pituitary Gland / pathology
  • Radiography
  • Sella Turcica / abnormalities*
  • Sella Turcica / diagnostic imaging
  • Sella Turcica / pathology
  • Syndrome