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Pituitary incidentalomas in paediatric age are different from those described in adulthood



Guidelines on pituitary incidentalomas evaluation and management are limited to adults since there are no data on this matter in the paediatric population. We aim to analyse the morphologic characteristics, hormonal profile and follow-up of these lesions in children.


We have searched for pituitary incidentalomas in the neuroimaging reports and electronic medical records of the Paediatric Endocrinology Clinic of our centre. Patients with 18 years-old or less were included.


Forty-one incidentalomas were identified, 25 of them (62.4%) in females. The mean age at diagnosis was 12.0 ± 4.96 years-old. Headaches were the main reason that led to image acquisition (51.2%) and MRI was the imaging method that detected the majority of the incidentalomas (70.7%). The most prevalent lesion was pituitary hypertrophy (29.3%), which was mainly diagnosed in female adolescents (91.7%), followed by arachnoid cysts (17.1%), pituitary adenomas (14.6%) and Rathke’s cleft cysts (12.2%). Most patients (90.2%) did not present clinical or laboratorial findings of hypopituitarism or hormonal hypersecretion. Four patients presented endocrine dysfunction: three had growth hormone deficiency and one had a central precocious puberty. Twenty-three patients (56.1%) underwent imagiological revaluation during a median follow-up time of 24.6 months (interquartile range 5.07). None of them presented dimensional progression.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first series of pituitary incidentalomas in pediatric age. Comparing our series with those conducted in adults, we have observed a higher preponderance of pituitary hypertrophy over adenomas, a lower prevalence of hormonal hyper/hyposecretion and lower risk of dimensional progression during follow-up.

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Correspondence to Pedro Souteiro.

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All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Souteiro, P., Maia, R., Santos-Silva, R. et al. Pituitary incidentalomas in paediatric age are different from those described in adulthood. Pituitary 22, 124–128 (2019).

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  • Pituitary gland
  • Incidentaloma
  • Pediatrics
  • Neuroimaging