Thursday, August 18, 2011

Selective inferior petrosal sinus sampling without venous outflow diversion in the detection of a pituitary adenoma in Cushing’s syndrome

Lukas Andereggen, Gerhard Schroth, Jan Gralla, Rolf Seiler, Luigi Mariani, Jürgen Beck, Hans-Rudolf Widmer, Robert H. Andres, Emanuel Christ and Christoph Ozdoba

DOI: 10.1007/s00234-011-0915-6



Conventional MRI may still be an inaccurate method for the non-invasive detection of a microadenoma in adrenocorticotropin (ACTH)-dependent Cushing’s syndrome (CS). Bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS) with ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone (oCRH) stimulation is an invasive, but accurate, intervention in the diagnostic armamentarium surrounding CS. Until now, there is a continuous controversial debate regarding lateralization data in detecting a microadenoma. Using BIPSS, we evaluated whether a highly selective placement of microcatheters without diversion of venous outflow might improve detection of pituitary microadenoma.


We performed BIPSS in 23 patients that met clinical and biochemical criteria of CS and with equivocal MRI findings. For BIPSS, the femoral veins were catheterized bilaterally with a 6-F catheter and the inferior petrosal sinus bilaterally with a 2.7-F microcatheter. A third catheter was placed in the right femoral vein. Blood samples were collected from each catheter to determine ACTH blood concentration before and after oCRH stimulation.


In 21 patients, a central-to-peripheral ACTH gradient was found and the affected side determined. In 18 of 20 patients where transsphenoidal partial hypophysectomy was performed based on BIPSS findings, microadenoma was histologically confirmed. BIPSS had a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 67% after oCRH stimulation in detecting a microadenoma. Correct localization of the adenoma was achieved in all Cushing’s disease patients.


BIPSS remains the gold standard in the detection of a microadenoma in CS. Our findings show that the selective placement of microcatheters without venous outflow diversion might further enhance better recognition to localize the pituitary tumor.

Keywords  Angiography, Digital subtraction – Cushing disease – Petrosal sinus sampling – Pituitary gland – Magnetic resonance imaging

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