Empty sella syndrome is a condition in which the pituitary gland shrinks or becomes flattened.
The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of the brain. It sits in a saddle-like compartment in the skull called the "sella turcica," which in Latin means "Turkish saddle."
When the pituitary gland shrinks or becomes flattened, it cannot be seen on MRI scans, giving the appearance of an "empty sella." This is referred to as empty sella syndrome.
The pituitary makes several hormones that control the other glands in the body, including the:
Primary empty sella syndrome occurs when a hole in the membrane covering the pituitary gland allows fluid in, which 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. This is a condition seen most commonly in obese women.
Melmed S, Kleinberg D. Anterior pituitary. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 8.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885