Pituitary gland height evaluated by MR in patients with β-thalassemia major: a marker of pituitary gland function
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In transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia major, increased iron deposition in the pituitary gland has a cytotoxic effect leading mainly to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Our purpose was to assess in these patients the height of the pituitary gland and to evaluate whether it represents a marker of pituitary gland function. In 29 patients with β-thalassemia major and 35 age- and gender-matched controls the pituitary gland height was evaluated in a midline sagittal scan using a spin echo T1-weighted (500/20 TR/TE) sequence. In all patients, an extensive endocrine evaluation was performed, including measurements of spontaneous and stimulated levels of gonadotropins, thyroid hormones, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, and adrenal hormones. The pituitary gland height was lower in thalassemic patients with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (n=15) (mean 3.48; SD 0.46) than in the age- and gender-matched controls (mean 6.29; SD 0.77), (P<0.001). No statistically significant difference was found between thalassemic patients without hormone dysfunction (n=14) (mean 5.34; SD 1.52) and age- and gender-matched controls (mean 5.91; SD 1.06). We conclude that in thalassemic patients the pituitary gland height is an additional marker of pituitary gland function and might be useful in clinical management.
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