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FP Essent. 2018 Nov;474:28-32.

Endocrine Conditions in Older Adults: Adrenal Tumors.

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Department of Family Medicine MUSC, 5 Charleston Center Drive, Charleston, SC 29425.
Trident Family Health Department of Family Medicine MUSC, 9228 Medical Plaza Dr, Charleston, SC 29406.


Incidentally discovered adrenal masses, referred to as adrenal incidentalomas, are fairly common given the routine use of imaging as part of clinical care in a variety of settings. Adrenal incidentalomas most frequently are benign and hormonally inactive tumors. However, approximately 11% to 15% are hormonally active, which can lead to diagnosis of clinically relevant conditions that affect morbidity and mortality. Thus, all adrenal incidentalomas should be tested for production of hormones at initial diagnosis. A 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test is the initial screening test. Patients then should be referred for appropriate treatment. Among the adrenal mass subtypes, pheochromocytomas are associated with the highest risk of mortality. Every effort should be made to exclude the presence of these tumors. Patients with hypertension and adrenal incidentalomas should be evaluated for aldosterone excess with an aldosterone to renin ratio. Primary malignancy represents a low percentage of adrenal incidentalomas. A minority of adrenal malignancies are primary adrenocortical tumors, which are associated with a poor prognosis and for which management often is palliative.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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