Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Empty Sella Syndrome

By

John D. Carmichael

, MD, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
Click here for the Professional Version
Topic Resources

In empty sella syndrome, the sella turcica (the bony structure at the base of the brain that houses the pituitary gland) fills with cerebrospinal fluid, partially or completely compressing the gland and may enlarge the sella turcica.

People with empty sella syndrome have a defect in the tissue barrier that normally keeps the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain separate from the sella turcica. As a result, cerebrospinal fluid puts increased pressure on the pituitary gland Overview of the Pituitary Gland The pituitary is a pea-sized gland that is housed within a bony structure (sella turcica) at the base of the brain. The sella turcica protects the pituitary but allows very little room for expansion... read more and the walls of the sella turcica. The sella turcica may enlarge, and the pituitary gland may shrink, causing the sella to appear empty on imaging studies.

Empty sella syndrome occurs most often in middle-aged women who are overweight and who have high blood pressure. Less commonly, the condition occurs after pituitary surgery, radiation therapy, or infarction (death) of a pituitary tumor.

The empty sella syndrome may cause no symptoms at all and seldom causes serious symptoms. About half of those affected have headaches, and some people have high blood pressure as well. In rare cases, there is leaking of the cerebrospinal fluid from the nose or problems with vision.

Treatment is rarely needed. It is given only if the pituitary produces too much or too little hormones, depending on which hormones are affected. Treatment may be replacing the deficient hormone or giving drugs to decrease excess hormone production.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read
Test your knowledge
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a complication of diabetes. It occurs mostly in people with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when a lack of insulin prevents glucose in the bloodstream from entering the cells. Without adequate glucose, the cells burn fat for energy, producing compounds called ketones. Ketones supply some energy, but they also make the blood too acidic. There are several causes of ketoacidosis. Which of the following is a cause of ketoacidosis?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP