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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2007 Nov;189(5):1119-23.

The incidental indeterminate adrenal mass on CT (> 10 H) in patients without cancer: is further imaging necessary? Follow-up of 321 consecutive indeterminate adrenal masses.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Rhode Island Hospital, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, 593 Eddy St., Providence, RI 02903, USA.



The objective of our study was to determine whether follow-up imaging evaluation is necessary for incidentally discovered indeterminate adrenal lesions (> 10 H) on CT in patients with no known malignancy.


A computer search of CT reports from January 2000 to December 2003 identified patients with incidentally detected, indeterminate, but benign-appearing adrenal lesions who had no known malignancy and no clinical suspicion of hyperfunctioning adrenal mass. Patients with adrenal masses diagnostic on the initial CT or heterogeneous masses were excluded. Two hundred ninety patients with 321 lesions met the study criteria. Each lesion was determined to be benign or malignant based on histopathology, characterization with diagnostic imaging studies, or a minimum of 1 year of stability on imaging follow-up or 2 years of stability on clinical follow-up.


Of the 321 lesions, 318 masses (99.1%) were confirmed to be benign and clinically insignificant. These included three (0.9%) histologically confirmed adenomas, 198 (61.7%) adenomas by imaging characterization, five (1.6%) other benign lesions, 71 (22.1%) masses stable on imaging follow-up, and 41 (12.8%) masses with clinical stability. There were three (0.9%) clinically unsuspected functioning masses: one cortisol-producing adenoma and two pheochromocytomas. There were no metastatic adrenal lesions, even among the 13 patients who subsequently developed malignancy elsewhere.


All of the incidentally detected adrenal masses with a CT attenuation of > 10 H were benign in patients with no known malignancy. Follow-up imaging to characterize an incidental adrenal mass appears to have a limited role in this patient cohort.

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