Primary hypophysitis causes varying degrees of endocrine dysfunction and mass effect. The natural course and best treatment have not been well established.
Medical records of 22 patients who had been diagnosed with primary hypophysitis between January 2001 and March 2013 were retrospectively reviewed. Based on the anatomical location, we classified the cases as adenohypophysitis (AH), infundibuloneurohypophysitis (INH), and panhypophysitis (PH). Clinical presentation, endocrine function, pathologic findings, magnetic resonance imaging findings, and treatment courses were reviewed.
Among 22 patients with primary hypophysitis, 81.8% (18/22) had involvement of the posterior pituitary lobe. Two patients of the AH (2/3, 66.6%) and three patients of the PH (3/10, 30%) groups initially underwent surgical mass reduction. Five patients, including three of the PH (3/10, 33.3%) group and one from each of the AH (1/3, 33.3%) and INH (1/9, 11.1%) groups, initially received high-dose glucocorticoid treatment. Nearly all of the patients treated with surgery or high-dose steroid treatment (9/11, 82%) required continuous hormone replacement during the follow-up period. Twelve patients received no treatment for mass reduction due to the absence of acute symptoms and signs related to a compressive mass effect. Most of them (11/12, 92%) did not show disease progression, and three patients recovered partially from hormone deficiency.
Deficits of the posterior pituitary were the most common features in our cases of primary hypophysitis. Pituitary endocrine defects responded less favorably to glucocorticoid treatment and surgery. In the absence of symptoms related to mass effect and with the mild defect of endocrine function, it may not require treatment to reduce mass except hormone replacement.