Central diabetes insipidus and pituitary stalk thickening in adults: distinction of neoplastic from non-neoplastic lesions

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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  • 1 Department of Endocrinology, Erasme Hospital, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2 Endocrine Unit, Department of Medical Therapeutics, Alexandra Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
  • 3 Department of Neuroradiology, Erasme Hospital, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  • 4 Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Université Catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium
  • 5 Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Bicêtre, Service d’Endocrinologie et des Maladies de la Reproduction, Centre de Référence des Maladies Rares de l’Hypophyse, Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France
  • 6 Université Paris-Saclay, Univ. Paris-Sud, Inserm, Signalisation Hormonale, Physiopathologie Endocrinienne et Métabolique, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France

Correspondence should be addressed to F Devuyst; Email: fdevuyst@ulb.ac.be
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Context

Association of central diabetes insipidus (CDI) and pituitary stalk thickening (PST) may have several etiologies (including malignancies) and differential diagnosis remains often difficult.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to identify which clinical, biochemical or radiological features could help clinicians to make an etiological diagnosis, especially distinguishing neoplastic from non-neoplastic pituitary stalk lesions.

Design and methods

We retrospectively analyzed clinical, biochemical, radiological and histological data of 38 adult patients diagnosed with CDI and PST of proven etiology.

Results

Of the 38 pituitary stalk lesions included, 11 (29%) were neoplastic. A histopathological diagnosis was obtained in 22/38 (58%) patients. The three most frequently observed etiologies of PST were neuroinfundibulitis (34%), germinoma (21%) and histiocytosis (18%). Pituitary stalk thickness was larger for neoplastic lesions, particularly germinomas. Male gender and a very young age were statistically associated with a risk of germinoma. At least one anterior pituitary deficit was observed in nearly 60% of patients. Patients with neoplastic PST were more affected by multiple anterior pituitary dysfunction than patients with benign PST. A high serum prolactin level was individually the best predictor of a neoplastic origin (90% sensitivity and 60% specificity for a serum prolactin level 1.27-fold above the normal upper limit (ULN)).

Conclusion

We confirm a relatively high risk of malignancy in adult patients presenting with the association of CDI and PST. Young age, male gender, a very large thickening of the stalk, multiple anterior pituitary deficits and prolactin above 1.3× ULN increase the likelihood of a neoplastic origin.

 

     European Society of Endocrinology

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