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J Urol. 1997 Apr;157(4):1213-6.

The natural history and treatment of adrenal myelolipoma.

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  • 1Department of Urology, James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



We determined the natural history and clarified the treatment of adrenal myelolipoma.


A retrospective review of medical records and radiographic imaging studies of 20 patients diagnosed with adrenal myelolipoma was performed.


Of 20 patients 4 presented with abdominal pain and 1 had Cushing's syndrome. The remaining tumors were discovered incidentally. Four patients underwent surgery because of abdominal pain in 2, adrenal hyperfunction (Cushing's syndrome) in 1 and a tumor 10.5 cm. in largest dimension in 1. Of 15 patients (16 adrenal myelolipomas) followed without surgical intervention for an average of 3.2 years (range 0.3 to 10.8) 13 remained asymptomatic and 2 experienced persistent, vague abdominal discomfort. One patient was lost to followup. A total of 13 tumors from 12 patients was serially imaged, with tumor size increasing in 6, decreasing in 2 and remaining unchanged in 5.


These data suggest that the majority of adrenal myelolipomas can be treated conservatively. While tumors can become enlarged, they also exhibit variable growth, and size and growth rate do not necessarily correlate with symptoms. Computerized tomography can be used for diagnosis.

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