Twelve patients (10 women and 2 men) with a primary empty sella turcica were studied. Endocrine function tests were performed as follows: growth hormone (GH) was measured after insulin-induced-hypoglycaemia, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) after LH-releasing hormone, thyrotrophin (TSH) and prolactin after thyrotrophin-releasing hormone; pituitary reserve of adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH) was determined by measurement of plasma cortisol after lysinevasopressin and 11 deoxycortisol after metyrapone.
Five of the patients (group A) had no endocrine disturbance.
Seven patients (group B) had a hypothalamo-pituitary disorder. Two of them had panhypopituitarism which appeared in one case after meningoencephalitis and in the other after a severe cranial trauma. In two cases an amenorrhoea-galactorrhoea syndrome with increased prolactin level (68 and 230 ng/ml) led to a diagnosis of a prolactin producing adenoma, which was confirmed by surgery. Finally three cases of amenorrhoeagalactorrhoea, with normal prolactin level, and/or diabetes insipidus remained unexplained. However, no causal relationship could be demonstrated between the pituitary disturbance and the "empty sella".
Primary empty sella turcica is therefore a neuroanatomical and neuroradiological entity with no endocrine implication. A pituitary disorder might suggest a microadenoma or an incidentally associated disease.