Rathke pouch

Rathke pouch, also known as hypophyseal diverticulum, is an ectodermal outpouching of stomodeum (primitive oral cavity lined by ectoderm) which forms at approximately 3-4 weeks gestation and goes on to form the adenohypophysis of the pituitary gland.

Gross anatomy

The anterior wall of the pouch gives rise to the anterior lobe of the pituitary (pars distalis). The posterior wall of the pouch does not proliferate and remains as the intermediate lobe of the pituitary (pars intermedia). The lumen of the pouch narrows to form a cleft (Rathke cleft) that normally regresses. Persistence of this cleft with expansion is believed to be the origin of a Rathke cleft cyst (also known as pars intermedia cyst).

History and etymology

It is named after Martin Heinrich Rathke (1793-1860), German professor of Zoology and Anatomy.

Related pathology

  • Rathke cleft cysts
  • pharyngeal hypophysis
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