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Eur J Endocrinol. 2017 Dec;177(6):475-483. doi: 10.1530/EJE-17-0372. Epub 2017 Sep 4.

Optimal follow-up strategies for adrenal incidentalomas: reappraisal of the 2016 ESE-ENSAT guidelines in real clinical practice.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul Metropolitan Government Boramae Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Gyeongsang National University Changwon Hospital, Changwon, South Korea.



Recently, the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE), in collaboration with the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumors (ENSAT), asserted that adrenal incidentalomas (AIs) <4 cm and ≤10 Hounsfield units (HU) do not require further follow-up imaging. To validate the clinical application of the follow-up strategies suggested by the 2016 ESE-ENSAT guidelines, we explored the clinical characteristics and natural course of AIs in a single center over 13 years.


This retrospective cohort study included a total of 1149 patients diagnosed with AIs between 2000 and 2013 in a single tertiary center. Hormonal examination and radiological evaluations were performed at the initial diagnosis of AI and during the follow-up according to the appropriate guidelines.


The mean age at diagnosis was 54.2 years, and the majority of AIs (68.0%) were nonfunctional lesions. Receiver operating curve analysis was used to discriminate malignant from benign lesions; the optimal cut-off value for mass size was 3.4 cm (sensitivity: 100%; specificity: 95.0%), and that for the pre-contrast HU was 19.9 (sensitivity: 100%; specificity: 67.4%). The majority of nonfunctional lesions did not change in size during the 4-year follow-up period. Applying a cut-off value of 1.8 μg/dL after a 1-mg overnight dexamethasone suppression test, 28.0% of all nonfunctional AIs progressed to autonomous cortisol secretion during the follow-up period. However, we observed no development of overt Cushing's syndrome in the study.


We advocate that no follow-up imaging is required if the detected adrenal mass is <4 cm and has clear benign features. However, prospective studies with longer follow-up are needed to confirm the appropriate follow-up strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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