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      MANAGEMENT OF ENDOCRINE DISEASE: Pituitary ‘incidentaloma’: neuroradiological assessment and differential diagnosis

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          Abstract

          Pituitary incidentalomas are a by-product of modern imaging technology. The term ‘incidentaloma’ is neither a distinct diagnosis nor a pathological entity. Rather, it is a collective designation for different entities that are discovered fortuitously, requiring a working diagnosis based on the input of the radiologist, endocrinologist and often a neurosurgeon. In addition to pathological conditions affecting the pituitary gland, a thorough knowledge of the radiological characteristics of normal variants and technical artifacts is required to arrive at an accurate differential diagnosis. After careful radiological and hormonal evaluation, the vast majority of pituitary incidentalomas turn out to be non-functioning pituitary microadenomas and Rathke’s cleft cysts (RCCs). Based on the low growth potential of non-functioning pituitary microadenomas and RCCs, periodic MRI surveillance is currently considered the optimal management strategy. Stricter follow-up is required for macroadenomas, as increases in size occur more frequently.

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          Most cited references 80

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          Incidental findings on brain MRI in the general population.

          Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is increasingly used both in research and in clinical medicine, and scanner hardware and MRI sequences are continually being improved. These advances are likely to result in the detection of unexpected, asymptomatic brain abnormalities, such as brain tumors, aneurysms, and subclinical vascular pathologic changes. We conducted a study to determine the prevalence of such incidental brain findings in the general population. The subjects were 2000 persons (mean age, 63.3 years; range, 45.7 to 96.7) from the population-based Rotterdam Study in whom high-resolution, structural brain MRI (1.5 T) was performed according to a standardized protocol. Two trained reviewers recorded all brain abnormalities, including asymptomatic brain infarcts. The volume of white-matter lesions was quantified in milliliters with the use of automated postprocessing techniques. Two experienced neuroradiologists reviewed all incidental findings. All diagnoses were based on MRI findings, and additional histologic confirmation was not obtained. Asymptomatic brain infarcts were present in 145 persons (7.2%). Among findings other than infarcts, cerebral aneurysms (1.8%) and benign primary tumors (1.6%), mainly meningiomas, were the most frequent. The prevalence of asymptomatic brain infarcts and meningiomas increased with age, as did the volume of white-matter lesions, whereas aneurysms showed no age-related increase in prevalence. Incidental brain findings on MRI, including subclinical vascular pathologic changes, are common in the general population. The most frequent are brain infarcts, followed by cerebral aneurysms and benign primary tumors. Information on the natural course of these lesions is needed to inform clinical management. Copyright 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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            High prevalence of pituitary adenomas: a cross-sectional study in the province of Liege, Belgium.

            Prevalence data are important for assessing the burden of disease on the health care system; data on pituitary adenoma prevalence are very scarce. The objective of the study was to measure the prevalence of clinically relevant pituitary adenomas in a well-defined population. This was a cross-sectional, intensive, case-finding study performed in three regions of the province of Liège, Belgium, to measure pituitary adenoma prevalence as of September 30, 2005. The study was conducted in specialist and general medical practitioner patient populations, referral hospitals, and investigational centers. Three demographically and geographically distinct districts of the province of Liège were delineated precisely using postal codes. Medical practitioners in these districts were recruited, and patients with pituitary adenomas under their care were identified. Diagnoses were confirmed after retrieval of clinical, hormonal, radiological, and pathological data; full demographic and therapeutic follow-up data were collected in all cases. Sixty-eight patients with clinically relevant pituitary adenomas were identified in a population of 71,972 individuals; the mean (+/- sd) prevalence was 94 +/- 19.3 cases per 100,000 population (95% confidence interval, 72.2 to 115.8). The group was 67.6% female and had a mean age at diagnosis of 40.3 yr; 42.6% had macroadenomas and 55.9% underwent surgery. Prolactinomas comprised 66% of the group, with the rest having nonsecreting tumors (14.7%), somatotropinomas (13.2%), or Cushing's disease (5.9%); 20.6% had hypopituitarism. The prevalence of pituitary adenomas in the study population (one case in 1064 individuals) was more than 3.5-5 times that previously reported. This increased prevalence may have important implications when prioritizing funding for research and treatment of pituitary adenomas.
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              Prevalence of pituitary adenomas: a community-based, cross-sectional study in Banbury (Oxfordshire, UK).

              Pituitary adenomas (PAs) are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The optimal delivery of services and the provision of care for patients with PAs require distribution of the resources proportionate to the impact of these conditions on the community. Currently, the resource allocation for PAs in the health care system is lacking a reliable and an up-to-date epidemiological background that would reflect the recent advances in the diagnostic technologies, leading to the earlier recognition of these tumours. To determine the prevalence, the diagnostic delay and the characteristics of patients with PA in a well-defined geographical area of the UK (Banbury, Oxfordshire). Sixteen general practitioner (GP) surgeries covering the area of Banbury and a total population of 89 334 inhabitants were asked to participate in the study (data confirmed on 31 July 2006). Fourteen surgeries with a total of 81,449 inhabitants (91% of the study population) agreed to take part. All cases of PAs were found following an exhaustive computer database search of agreed terms by the staff of each Practice and data on age, gender, presenting manifestations and their duration, imaging features at diagnosis, history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and family history of PA were collected. A total of 63 patients with PA were identified amongst the study population of 81,149, with a prevalence of 77.6 PA cases/100,000 inhabitants (prolactinomas; PRLoma: 44.4, nonfunctioning PAs: 22.2, acromegaly; ACRO: 8.6, corticotroph adenoma: 1.2 and unknown functional status; UFS: 1.2/100,000 inhabitants). The distribution of each PA subtype was for PRLoma 57%, nonfunctioning PAs 28%, ACRO 11%, corticotroph adenoma 2% and UFS 2%. The median age at diagnosis and the duration of symptoms until diagnosis (in years) were for PRLoma 32.0 and 1.5, nonfunctioning PAs 51.5 and 0.8, ACRO 47 and 4.5 and corticotroph adenoma 57 and 7, respectively. PRLoma was the most frequent PA diagnosed up to the age of 60 years (0-20 years: 75% and 20-60 years: 61% of PAs) and nonfunctioning PA after the age of 60 years (60% of PAs). Nonfunctioning PAs dominated in men (57% of all men with PA) and PRLoma in women (76% of all women with PA). Five patients (7.9%) presented with classical pituitary apoplexy, with a prevalence of 6.2 cases/100,000 inhabitants. Based on a well-defined population in Banbury (Oxfordshire, UK), we have shown that PAs have a fourfold increased prevalence than previously thought; our data confirm that PAs have a higher burden on the Health Care System and optimal resource distribution for both clinical care and research activities aiming to improve the outcome of these patients are needed.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                European Journal of Endocrinology
                Bioscientifica
                0804-4643
                1479-683X
                October 2016
                October 2016
                : 175
                : 4
                : R171-R184
                Article
                10.1530/EJE-15-1272
                © 2016

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