Transection of the pituitary stalk: development of an ectopic posterior lobe assessed with MR imaging

Radiology. 1987 Nov;165(2):487-9. doi: 10.1148/radiology.165.2.3659371.


Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed in ten patients with pituitary stalk transection who had idiopathic pituitary dwarfism. Contiguous sagittal T1-weighted images were obtained in all cases, and, in some, axial or coronal images were taken for further evaluation. On MR images, normal anterior and posterior lobes of the pituitary gland can be clearly differentiated because the posterior lobe has a characteristic high intensity on T1-weighted images. In the ten patients, the high-intensity posterior lobe was not seen, but a similar high signal intensity was observed at the proximal stump in seven patients. This high-intensity area is the newly formed ectopic posterior lobe, which secretes antidiuretic hormone just as the posterior lobe would. When the ectopic lobe completely compensates for the impaired posterior lobe, endocrinologic data indicate normal posterior lobe function. However, MR imaging can reveal the transection of the pituitary stalk and formation of the ectopic lobe.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Injuries / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / metabolism
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / pathology
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / abnormalities*
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Vasopressins / metabolism


  • Vasopressins