Reliability of magnetic resonance imaging for the detection of hypopituitarism in children with optic nerve hypoplasia

Ophthalmology. 2014 Jan;121(1):387-391. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.07.001. Epub 2013 Aug 21.


Purpose: It is essential to identify hypopituitarism in children with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH) because they are at risk for developmental delay, seizures, or death. The purpose of this study is to determine the reliability of neurohypophyseal abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the detection of hypopituitarism in children with ONH.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants: One hundred one children with clinical ONH who underwent MRI of the brain and orbits and a detailed pediatric endocrinologic evaluation.

Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging studies were performed on 1.5-Tesla scanners. The imaging protocol included sagittal T1-weighted images, axial fast fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery/T2-weighted images, and diffusion-weighted images of the brain. Orbital imaging included fat-saturated axial and coronal images and high-resolution axial T2-weighted images. The MRI studies were reviewed by 2 pediatric neuroradiologists for optic nerve hypoplasia, absent or ectopic posterior pituitary, absent pituitary infundibulum, absent septum pellucidum, migration anomalies, and hemispheric injury. Medical records were reviewed for clinical examination findings and endocrinologic status. All patients underwent a clinical evaluation by a pediatric endocrinologist and a standardized panel of serologic testing that included serum insulin-like growth factor-1, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, prolactin, cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and free thyroxine levels. Radiologists were masked to patients' endocrinologic status and funduscopic findings.

Main outcome measures: Sensitivity and specificity of MRI findings for the detection of hypopituitarism.

Results: Neurohypophyseal abnormalities, including absent pituitary infundibulum, ectopic posterior pituitary bright spot, and absent posterior pituitary bright spot, occurred in 33 children. Magnetic resonance imaging disclosed neurohypophyseal abnormalities in 27 of the 28 children with hypopituitarism (sensitivity, 96%). A normal neurohypophysis occurred in 67 of 73 children with normal endocrinologic function (specificity, 92%).

Conclusions: Neurohypophyseal abnormalities on MRI are sensitive and specific indicators of hypopituitarism in children with ONH.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Eye Abnormalities / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypopituitarism / diagnosis*
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Optic Nerve / abnormalities*
  • Pituitary Gland / abnormalities*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult