Unravelling pituitary tumours in medically treated patients with acromegaly: the impact of systematic MRI reassessment

Acta Radiol. 2024 Apr 24:2841851241246107. doi: 10.1177/02841851241246107. Online ahead of print.


Background: In acromegaly, the primary tumor is usually found during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pituitary gland. A remnant tumor after surgery is, however, harder to depict. When a tumor is missed, the remaining option is usually lifelong pharmacological treatment.

Purpose: To identify tumors by reassessment of all available MRI scans in pharmacologically treated patients, operated or not, and to compare our results with the routine MRI reports.

Material and methods: Adult patients diagnosed with acromegaly and managed at a tertiary care center between 2005 and 2021 and currently on pharmacological treatment were included. MRI scans were evaluated in a standardized manner and classified independently by a radiologist and an endocrinologist into "certain," "suspected," or "no tumor." In case of disagreement, consensus was achieved with a senior neuroradiologist. The results were compared using the clinical radiologists' routine MRI reports.

Results: We identified certain and suspected tumors in 29/74 and 36/74 patients, respectively. No tumor was identified in nine patients. In five of these, no MRI contrast agent was given. Discrepancy between our results and the routine MRI reports was found in 31/74 patients (P = 0.01). In 22 patients, the routine reports described no tumor while we identified certain tumors in 2/22 patients and suspected tumors in 13/22 patients.

Conclusion: In most patients with pharmacologically treated acromegaly, we identified a certain or suspected pituitary tumor. These findings were more frequent compared to the routine MRI reports. Based on our results, patients will be considered for a change in long-term treatment modality.

Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging; acromegaly; adenoma; pituitary; remnant tumor.