Spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea as the initial presentation of growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma

Vinni Makin, Betul Hatipoglu, Amir H. Hamrahian, Andrea V. Arrossi, P. Daniel Knott, Joung H. Lee, Burak Sade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with acromegaly usually present with characteristic clinical features or comorbidities associated with excess insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1)/growth hormone (GH) or may come to medical attention secondary to mass effects causing visual field distortions. Herein, we report a case of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea as the presenting symptom of acromegaly. A 68-year-old man presented to an outside facility with a 2-day history of headache associated with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and clear nasal discharge and underwent 2 attempted repairs of a sphenoid sinus CSF leak. Examination on admission to our hospital was significant for fluctuating level of consciousness. Subsequently, subtle coarse facial features were appreciated. Pituitary function testing showed thyrotropin and gonadotropin deficiencies along with an elevated age- and sex-matched IGF-1 of 285 (normal level, 59-225 ng/mL). Nadir GH during oral glucose tolerance test was 5.5 ng/mL and confirmed the diagnosis of acromegaly. Magnetic resonance imaging showed pneumocephalus, an enlarged sella with an elongated pituitary stalk, and partial erosion of the anterior wall of the sphenoid sinus. A distinct adenoma could not be identified. An endoscopic, transnasal, transsphenoidal exploration and biopsy with multilayered skull base reconstruction were performed. Histologic examination of the biopsy contents was consistent with a GH-producing adenoma. Postoperatively, the patient's fluctuating level of consciousness improved and returned to baseline after his successful skull base repair. During the follow-up period, he had an IGF-1 of 713 ng/mL and started treatment with a somatostatin analogue. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of a GH-producing pituitary adenoma presenting with spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea. Pituitary adenomas should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea with abnormal sellar image, and these patients should undergo a thorough hormonal evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-437
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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