The definitive diagnosis of Cushing’s disease (CD) in the presence of pituitary microadenoma remains a continuous challenge. Novel available pituitary imaging techniques are emerging. This study aimed to provide a structured analysis of the diagnostic accuracy as well as the clinical use of molecular imaging in patients with ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome (CS). We also discuss the role of multidisciplinary counseling in decision making. Additionally, we propose a complementary diagnostic algorithm for both de novo and recurrent or persistent CD. A structured literature search was conducted and two illustrative CD cases discussed at our Pituitary Center are presented. A total of 14 CD (n = 201) and 30 ectopic CS (n = 301) articles were included. MRI was negative or inconclusive in a quarter of CD patients. 11C-Met showed higher pituitary adenoma detection than 18F-FDG PET–CT (87% versus 49%). Up to 100% detection rates were found for 18F-FET, 68Ga-DOTA-TATE, and 68Ga-DOTA-CRH, but were based on single studies. The use of molecular imaging modalities in the detection of pituitary microadenoma in ACTH-dependent CS is of added and complementary value, serving as one of the available tools in the diagnostic work-up. In selected CD cases, it seems justified to even refrain from IPSS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2919
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Cushing’s disease
  • PET
  • diagnosis
  • hypercortisolism
  • molecular imaging
  • pituitary

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