Evaluation of the Normal Equine Pituitary Gland

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Virginia Tech

Computed tomography (CT) is becoming more available as a diagnostic tool in the evaluation of the equine skull and brain. Objectives of this study were: 1) refine a CT protocol for evaluating the equine pituitary gland, 2.) define the CT anatomy of the pituitary region, 3.) determine a set of normal values for the pituitary dimensions (length, width, height, volume and weight), 4.) refine CT techniques for measuring pituitary size.

Horses were scanned using 10x10mm, 10x5mm, 4x4mm and 4x2mm slice thickness and interval combinations. The pituitary glands were removed immediately after CT and gross measurements were performed. CT measurements were compared with gross pituitary measurements using analysis of variance (ANOVA) in a randomized block design. Accuracy percentages were also calculated using gross measurements as the known value.

Mean dimensions of the histologically normal pituitary glands were: length 21.07mm, width 21.62mm, height 9.78mm and volume 2.66cm³. The weights ranged from 1.7g to 3.4g with a mean of 2.6g. Computed tomographic measurement analysis demonstrated that the 10mm slices were the most accurate way to estimate the length of the gland. The 4mm slices yielded the highest accuracy values for width, height and volume of the pituitary gland. The volume was underestimated by all interval and slice thickness combinations performed by CT. No evidence of an overlap effect was identified for any of the dimensions.

Our findings indicated that contrast-enhanced CT is an accurate technique for estimating pituitary linear dimensions. Three-dimensional CT volumetry may not be an accurate method for estimating pituitary volume.

Horses, pituitary gland, CT, Computed tomography, equine