Empty sella syndrome

From Dog
Characteristic appearance of empty sella due to herniation of the subarachnoid space[1]

Empty sella syndrome (Benign intracranial hypertension) is a developmental disorder of small-breed dogs characterized by herniation of the subarachnoidal space into the sella turcica with invisible (total empty sella) or reduced (partial empty sella) hypophyseal size[2].

An empty sella syndrome can be associated with endocrine disturbances such as central hyperadrenocorticism due to significantly small or absent adenohypophysis, but is very rare.

In the few reported cases, dogs present with ptyalism and regurgitation (associated with megaesophagus[3]) as well as polyuria and polydipsia for several months due to underlying Cushing's syndrome.

Hydrocephalus has not been reported with this condition in dogs, although it does occur in humans.

These cases have been treated symptomatically with attention to secondary disease, resulting in resolution of clinical signs in most cases.


  1. Stritch School of Medicine
  2. Konar M et al (2008) Magnetic resonance imaging features of empty sella in dogs. Vet Radiol Ultrasound 49(4):339-342
  3. Burgener IA et al (2007) Empty sella syndrome, hyperadrenocorticism and megaoesophagus in a dachshund. J Small Anim Pract 48(10):584-587