Transsphenoidal meningocele: An anatomical study using human fetuses including report of a case

Yukio Katori, Ai Kawamoto, Kwang Ho Cho, Kiyoshi Ishii, Hiroshi Abe, Shinichi Abe, Jose Francisco Rodríguez-Vázquez, Gen Murakami, Tetsuaki Kawase

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4 Citations (Scopus)


An asymptomatic transsphenoidal meningoencephalocele was discovered incidentally by fiber laryngoscopic examination in a 62-year-old man suffering from hoarseness due to dysplasia of the vocal cord epithelium. To provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of this anomaly, we performed histologic observations of paraffin-embedded specimens of 42 human fetal heads at 12-16 weeks of gestation. At these stages, ossification had started in the clivus but the sphenoid sinus was not developed. In contrast to the very low incidence of the intra- or trans-sphenoidal remnant of Rathke's pouch after birth, we found (1) the typical mid-line cleft of the sphenoid body in two specimens (2/42 or 4.8 %) and (2) a duct-like, sellar inferior protrusion ending in the sphenoid body in 12 specimens (12/42 or 28.6 %). The cyst-like structure in the protrusion (two specimens) seemed to be composed of obstructed veins. The intra- and trans-sphenoidal anomalies were observed more frequently in specimens without ossification of the sphenoid body than in those with ossification. However, irrespective of ossification, a cyst-like remnant of the most upper part of Rathke's pouch was always seen between the anterior and posterior lobes of the developing pituitary gland. In addition, the bursa pharyngea was seen in four specimens and we confirmed that the notochord was attached to the bursa in each case. The consistent remnant of the intrasellar Rathke's pouch appeared to explain the high incidence of Rathke's cleft cyst in adults. The relatively high incidence of intrasphenoidal anomalies in fetuses (14/42) suggested that the intra- or trans-sphenoidal remnant of Rathke's pouch was physiologically closed by ossification of the sphenoid body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2729-2736
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sep


  • Human fetuses
  • Ossification
  • Rathke's cleft cyst
  • Rathke's pouch
  • Sphenoid body
  • Transsphenoidal meningocele

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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