Lymphocytic and granulomatous hypophysitis: experience with nine cases

Neurosurgery. 1997 Apr;40(4):713-22; discussion 722-3. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199704000-00010.


Objective: Lymphocytic hypophysitis and granulomatous hypophysitis are rarely encountered. The aim of this study was to demonstrate their clinical peculiarities among pituitary disorders and to provide an approach for their clinical management.

Methods: In a retrospective study, we reviewed our surgical experience with nine patients harboring hypophysitis. The series included six cases of lymphocytic hypophysitis, two cases of granulomatous hypophysitis, and one case with evidence of coexisting lymphocytic and granulomatous hypophysitis.

Results: A striking similarity of clinical signs was found for our nine patients. Headache or aseptic meningitis, thickening of the sphenoid sinus mucosa, pituitary stalk enlargement, and tongue-shaped extension of the lesion along the basal hypothalamus were characteristic signs. Lymphocytic hypophysitis was not associated with pregnancy in any of the seven cases. No recurrence has been observed in six cases with total removal of the inflammatory tissue.

Conclusion: Lymphocytic hypophysitis and granulomatous hypophysitis represent related inflammatory disorders. Their conspicuous clinical features frequently allow preoperative diagnosis of hypophysitis. In view of their sometimes insidious clinical course, early surgical exploration is justified.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Insipidus / etiology
  • Female
  • Granuloma / complications
  • Granuloma / diagnosis
  • Granuloma / drug therapy
  • Granuloma / pathology*
  • Granuloma / surgery
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Diseases / classification
  • Pituitary Diseases / complications
  • Pituitary Diseases / diagnosis
  • Pituitary Diseases / drug therapy
  • Pituitary Diseases / pathology*
  • Pituitary Diseases / surgery
  • Prolactin / deficiency
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Dexamethasone
  • Prolactin