2019 Volume 66 Issue 3 Pages 259-264
Pituitary adenoma has been reported to be detectable in only 36–63% of Cushing’s disease (CD) patients by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this study, we investigate the outcomes and problems associated with tumor identification using 3-Tesla (3-T) MRI, which provides clearer images than ≤1.5-T MRI, in 115 patients who were initially diagnosed with CD. Before surgery, 31 macroadenomas (27%) and 54 microadenomas (47%) were identified by 3-T MRI, but pituitary adenoma was invisible on MRI in the remaining 30 cases (26%). The smallest tumor diameter amenable to a definitive diagnosis was 2 mm, and spoiled gradient-echo was the best sequence for diagnosing microadenomas. In 14 of 30 cases of MRI-invisible CD, the pituitary adenoma was identified during surgery. Nine of these 14 tumors that developed from outside the pituitary gland were retrospectively identified on MRI by comparison with surgical findings. The remaining 16 cases of MRI-invisible CD in which the pituitary adenoma was not identified during surgery involved partial hypophysectomy. Seven cases were hormonally remitted, but another nine cases experienced persistent disease after surgery. The sensitivity and specificity of the pituitary adenoma diagnosis in CD patients after the introduction of 3-T MRI were 80% and 100%, respectively. However, the sensitivity decreased to 72% when macroadenomas were excluded. Some adenomas associated with CD are still undetectable on 3-T MRI due to tumor size, location and intensity. However, sensitivity can be improved by monitoring tumors that develop outside the pituitary gland.