Is gadolinium contrast necessary for pituitary MRI in the evaluation of pediatric short stature and growth hormone deficiency?

Abdullah Almaghraby*, Alok Jaju, Maura E. Ryan, Karen Rychlik, Reema L. Habiby, Wendy J. Brickman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Short stature is a common concern that necessitates pediatric endocrinology evaluation. Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a commonly considered etiology. Brain and pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) is the most widely used imaging in assessing patients with GHD. Given the significant strides made in MRI technology, the need for contrast material should be reassessed. Method: We performed a retrospective review of healthy patients with short stature and/or GHD who underwent brain and pituitary MRI with and without contrast to assess the added value of contrast administration. Results: 227/318 identified patients underwent growth hormone (GH) stimulation testing; 28 (12.3%) with normal GH response and 62 (27.3%) with severe GHD. We found a low incidence of sellar and suprasellar pathologies. When comparing noncontrast and contrast MRI, we found perfect agreement in detecting abnormal posterior pituitary bright spots (kappa:1.0) and substantial agreement in detecting pars intermedia cysts and posterior superior sellar cysts (kappa: 0.74 and 0.71, respectively). Initially, only moderate agreement was found in detecting infundibular abnormalities (kappa: 0.51), although a revised noncontrast MRI protocol with high-resolution 3D images enabled visualization of the infundibulum. Conclusion: The MRI evaluation of healthy patients with short stature and/or isolated GHD may be completed without the use of GBCAs. The slight overestimation of pituitary stalk interruption by noncontrast images can be overcome by adding newer high-resolution sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-210
Number of pages10
JournalHormone Research in Paediatrics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Growth hormone deficiency
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Short normal children
  • Short stature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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