, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 575–578 | Cite as

Sella turcica: an anatomical, endocrinological, and historical perspective

  • Halil Tekiner
  • Niyazi Acer
  • Fahrettin KelestimurEmail author



The sphenoid bone has a superior depression called the sella turcica, Latin for “Turkish saddle,” where the pituitary gland is found. The availability of modern radiological imaging techniques has replaced plain radiography of the sella turcica in the investigation of hypothalamo–pituitary abnormalities. However, the size of the sella turcica, and smaller sella turcica size in particular, may cause pituitary dysfunction because of the changes in the structure of pituitary gland or may be associated with some genetic or acquired endocrine disorders. The name “sella turcica” is one of the most commonly used terms in everyday endocrine practice.


In this review, after a brief explanation of the anatomical and endocrinological features of the sella turcica had been given, a historical perspective of sella turcica nomenclature was presented for the first time.

Findings and conclusions

After Andreas Vesalius’s description of it as a suitable cavity for the gland that receives the “phlegm of the brain” in De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543), medical scholars began to use seat/saddle-related terms such as the ephippium, pars sellaris, sella equina, sella ossis, and sella sphenoidalis. The real designation of the sella turcica, however, was introduced to the anatomical nomenclature by the anatomist Adrianus Spigelius (1578–1625) in his famous work De Corpora Humanis Fabrica (1627).


Pituitary diseases Sella size Sella turcica Turkish saddle 


Conflict of interest

The authors have nothing to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Halil Tekiner
    • 1
  • Niyazi Acer
    • 2
  • Fahrettin Kelestimur
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of the History of Medicine, The Gevher Nesibe Institute of the History of MedicineErciyes UniversityKayseriTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy, Faculty of MedicineErciyes UniversityKayseriTurkey
  3. 3.Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of MedicineErciyes UniversityKayseriTurkey

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