Empty sella syndrome is a condition in which the pituitary gland shrinks or becomes flattened.
Pituitary - empty sella syndrome; Partial empty sella
The pituitary is a small gland located just underneath the brain. It is attached to the bottom of the brain by the pituitary stalk. The pituitary sits protected inside a saddle-like bony compartment in the base of the skull. This compartment is called the sella.
When the pituitary gland shrinks or becomes flattened, it cannot be seen on an MRI scan. This makes the area of the pituitary gland look like an "empty sella." But the sella is not actually empty. It is often filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. With empty sella syndrome, CSF has leaked into the sella turcica, putting pressure on the pituitary. This causes the gland to shrink or flatten.
Primary empty sella syndrome occurs when one of the layers (arachnoid) covering the outside of the brain bulges down into the sella and presses on the pituitary.
Secondary empty sella syndrome occurs when the sella is empty because the pituitary gland has been damaged by:
Empty sella syndrome may be seen in a condition called pseudotumor cerebri, which mainly affects young, obese women and causes the CSF to be under higher pressure.
The pituitary gland makes several hormones that control other glands and hormones in the body, including:
A problem with the pituitary gland can lead to problems with any of the above glands and abnormal hormone levels of these glands.
Often, there are no symptoms or loss of pituitary function.
If there are symptoms, they may include any of the following:
For primary empty sella syndrome:
For secondary empty sella syndrome, treatment involves replacing the hormones that are missing.
In some cases, surgery is needed to repair the sella to prevent CSF from leaking into the nose and sinuses.
Deep Dutta is in New Delhi, India. Dutta is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Empty Sella Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 31 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Empty Sella Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Type 2 Diabetes T2D, and Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young.
Lewis Blevins is an Endocrinologist in San Francisco, California. Dr. Blevins has been practicing medicine for over 35 years and is rated as a Distinguished doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Empty Sella Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 25 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Pituitary Tumor, Hypothalamic Tumor, Prolactinoma, and Panhypopituitarism. He is licensed to treat patients in Tennessee and California. Dr. Blevins is currently accepting new patients.
James Evans is a Neurosurgery doctor in Wilmington, Delaware. Dr. Evans has been practicing medicine for over 27 years and is rated as a Distinguished doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Empty Sella Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 50 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Meningioma, Craniopharyngioma, Prolactinoma, and Pituitary Tumor. He is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Dr. Evans is currently accepting new patients.
Primary empty sella syndrome does not cause health problems, and it does not affect life expectancy.
Complications of primary empty sella syndrome include a slightly higher than normal level of prolactin. This is a hormone made by the pituitary gland. Prolactin stimulates breast development and milk production in women.
Complications of secondary empty sella syndrome are related to the cause of pituitary gland disease or to the effects of too little pituitary hormone (hypopituitarism).
Contact your provider if you develop symptoms of abnormal pituitary function, such as menstrual cycle problems or impotence.
Published Date : May 13, 2021
Published By : Brent Wisse, MD, Board Certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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