Anterior Pituitary Volume in Patients with Transfusion Dependent Anemias: Volumetric Approaches and Relation to Pituitary MRI‑R2

Christoph Berliner, Zhiyue J. Wang, Sylvia T. Singer, Regine Grosse, Rosalie V. McDonough, Eric Padua, Qing Yuan, Marcela Weyhmiller, Ellen James, Elliott Vichinsky, Gerhard Adam, Jin Yamamura, Peter Bannas, Roland Fischer, Bjoern P. Schoennagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Anterior pituitary iron overload and volume shrinkage is common in patients with transfusion-dependent anemia and associated with growth retardation and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. We investigated the accuracy of different MRI-based pituitary volumetric approaches and the relationship between pituitary volume and MRI-R2, particularly with respect to growth and hypogonadism. Methods: In 43 patients with transfusion-dependent anemia (12–38 years) and 32 healthy controls (12–72 years), anterior pituitary volume was measured by a sagittal T1 GRE 3D sequence at 1.5T and analyzed by 3D semi-automated threshold volumetry (3D-volumetry). This reference method was compared with planimetric 2D-volumetry, approximate volume calculations, and pituitary height. Using a multiple SE sequence, pituitary iron as MRI-R2 was assessed by fitting proton signal intensities to echo times. Growth and hypogonadism were obtained from height percentile tables and patients’ medical charts. From body surface area and age adjusted anterior pituitary volumes of controls, Z‑scores were calculated for all subjects. Separation of controls and patients with respect to Z and pituitary R2 was performed by bivariate linear discriminant analysis. Results: Tuned 2D volumes showed highest agreement with reference 3D-volumes (bias −4.8%; 95% CI:−8.8%|−0.7%). A linear discriminant equation of Z = −17.8 + 1.45 · R2 revealed optimum threshold sensitivity and specificity of 65% and 100% for discrimination of patients from controls, respectively. Of correctly classified patients 71% and 75% showed hypogonadism and growth retardation, respectively. Conclusion: Accurate assessment of anterior pituitary size requires 3D or precise 2D volumetry, with shorter analysis time for the latter. Anterior pituitary volume Z‑scores and R2 allow for the identification of patients at risk of pituitary dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neuroradiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Anterior pituitary gland
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pituitary iron overload
  • Pituitary volumetry
  • Pituitary R2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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