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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2004 Apr;182(4):1033-7.

Changing role of imaging-guided percutaneous biopsy of adrenal masses: evaluation of 50 adrenal biopsies.

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Department of Radiology, University of Michigan, 1500 E Medical Center Dr., UH B1 D530, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



Prior series of percutaneous imaging-guided biopsies of adrenal masses before the advent of dedicated CT and MRI of the adrenal glands have shown that 40-57% of adrenal masses biopsied were adenomas-benign lesions requiring no further evaluation or treatment. This study was performed to assess the effect of dedicated adrenal imaging with CT and MRI on the rate of percutaneous imaging-guided biopsies of adrenal masses.


We reviewed 50 consecutive adrenal mass biopsies performed during a 48-month period. The patient demographics, technique of biopsy, pathology results, and results of any prior dedicated adrenal imaging with MRI or CT protocols were noted.


Only six (12%) of 50 biopsies were adenomas. Five of these six cases were preceded by dedicated adrenal CT or MRI. Thirty-five cases were metastatic disease, four were adrenal cortical carcinoma, three were pheochromocytoma, and two biopsies were nondiagnostic. Overall, 20 of 50 cases were preceded by a dedicated adrenal CT or MRI examination to exclude an adenoma; in 21 of the remaining 30 cases, the imaging characteristics before biopsy were inconsistent with the potential diagnosis of an adenoma and dedicated adrenal CT or MRI was not recommended.


The number of adrenal adenomas biopsied has declined markedly with the introduction of dedicated adrenal CT and MRI for adrenal adenomas. Percutaneous imaging-guided biopsy is useful in confirming the presence and nature of suspected metastatic deposits to the adrenal gland and in diagnosing or excluding adrenal adenomas in patients with equivocal imaging characteristics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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