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Original research
Bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling: experience in 327 patients
  1. Amy Deipolyi1,
  2. Alexander Bailin2,
  3. Joshua A Hirsch3,
  4. T Gregory Walker2,
  5. Rahmi Oklu4,5
  1. 1Division of Vascular & Interventional Radiology, Department of Radiology, New York University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Vascular & Interventional Radiology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Division of Interventional Neuroradiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Mayo Clinic, Vascular & Interventional Radiology, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
  5. 5Department of Medicine, Biomaterials Innovation Research Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Rahmi Oklu, Mayo Clinic, Division of Interventional Radiology, 13400 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA; oklu.rahmi{at}


Objective To describe findings and outcomes of 331 bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS) procedures performed in 327 patients evaluated for Cushing disease (CD).

Materials and methods The radiology department's electronic database was searched to identify all BIPSS procedures (1990–2013). Electronic medical records were used to identify demographics, laboratory, procedural, surgical and pathologic findings.

Results A total of 331 BIPSS procedures were performed in 327 patients (254 F, 73 M), mean age 41 (range 7–81) years. The overall technical success rate was 88% for bilateral cannulation, though nearly two-thirds of the technical failures had unilateral sampling that diagnosed CD. Of the 331 BIPSS procedures, 40 were performed without, and 291 with stimulation by Acthrel or desmopressin. Sensitivity was 89–94% for unstimulated BIPSS, 96% for stimulated BIPSS, and 77% for MRI. BIPSS lateralization was accurate in about half of patients, compared with 75% accuracy for MRI. Mean inferior petrosal sinus (IPS):peripheral adrenocorticotropic hormone ratio was 17.3 (SE 1.8) at baseline, and 99.2 (SE 14.8) at 3 min, with decreasing values over time. All patients with follow-up after surgical resection for centralizing BIPSS were reported to be cured, with cortisol levels significantly decreased from 19 to 4 μg/dL (p<0.0001). Complications from BIPSS were rare, including groin hematoma (2.5%), but no thromboembolic complications were seen.

Conclusions BIPSS remains the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosing CD. Stimulation with Acthrel or desmopressin is key to increasing specificity. When only one IPS can be successfully cannulated, results may still be diagnostic. BIPSS findings cannot be used to accurately lateralize lesions within the pituitary.

  • Angiography
  • Catheter
  • Technique
  • MRI
  • Tumor

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  • Contributors AD performed data collection and analysis, and wrote the manuscript. AB designed data collection tools, collected the data, and revised the manuscript. JAH and GTW wrote and revised the paper. RO conceived the study design, oversaw data collection, and wrote and revised the manuscript; he is the guarantor.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Institutional review board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Happy to share all aspects of the study.