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Empty Sella and Headache


Dr. Teresa Catarci, V Clinica Neurologica, Dip. di Sc. Neurologiche, V.le dell'Universita 30, 00185 Rome, Italy



Empty sella is an anatomical condition caused by herniation of the subarachnoid space into the pituitary fossa through an incompetent seller diaphragm. Headache seems to be one of the most frequently reported symptoms. We studied 13 headache patients (12 females, 1 male) presenting with primary empty sella (PES) on CT scan. The characteristics of the headache were analyzed and plasma levels of pituitary hormones or cortisol assessed. We confirmed the nonspecific nature of the headache in PES even though the majority of our patients complained of daily headache, mostly localized anteriorly. Hormone plasma levels were within normal range in all the patients assessed. However, four patients reported earlier endocrine disorders and more than half of the patients presented with obesity.

In our opinion, PES should be suspected in middle-aged overweight women with daily headache even in the absence of endocrine symptomatology.