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Surg Radiol Anat. 2013 Oct;35(8):749-54. doi: 10.1007/s00276-013-1105-5. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Horseshoe adrenal gland: a rare congenital anomaly.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic Imaging Health Sciences Center, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 300 Prince Philip Drive, St. John's, NL, A1B3V6, Canada,


A solitary adrenal gland spanning the midline has been alternatively described as "Horseshoe" or "Butterfly" and is a rare congenital abnormality almost exclusively associated with neonates. There have been 65 reported cases in fetuses and infants, based on ultrasound and autopsy findings. Horseshoe adrenal gland is associated with several congenital anomalies, such as asplenia (52 %), neural tube defects (37 %), renal abnormalities (29 %), and diaphragmatic defects (1 %). Recently, Feldman and colleagues [2] reported the first case of an adult male with horseshoe adrenal gland and posterior midline diaphragmatic anomaly found incidentally with CT imaging. We present a second case of asymptomatic adult horseshoe adrenal gland with posterior midline diaphragmatic hernia in a 51-year-old woman discovered on CT imaging. In our patient these abnormalities were also associated with a 9th thoracic butterfly vertebrae and a unilateral region of underdevelopment of the paraspinal musculature at the level of the diaphragmatic defect. To our knowledge, this is the first time this abnormality has been documented with MRI.

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