Objective: Evidence on the diagnostic performance of adrenal imaging is limited. We aimed to assess the diagnostic performance of unenhanced computed tomography (CT) and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/CT imaging in a high-risk population for adrenal malignancy using an optimal reference standard. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Methods: Imaging studies of patients with adrenal nodules who underwent adrenal biopsy and/or adrenalectomy between 1994 and 2014 were reviewed and compared to the reference standard of histology. Eighty % of patients presented with known or suspected extra-adrenal malignancy. Results: Unenhanced abdominal CT was performed in 353 patients with adrenal lesions; median size was 3 (0.7-15) cm and median radiodensity was 33 (-21-78) Hounsfield units (HU). Radiodensity of >10 HU diagnosed malignancy with a sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 33%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 72% and negative predictive value (NPV) of 100%. 18FDG-PET/CT was performed in 89 patients; median tumour size was 2.1 (0.7-9.2) cm. Maximum standardized uptake (SUV max) was higher in malignant lesions when compared to benign lesions (median=10 [2.3-29.4] vs 3.7 [1.4-24.5], respectively, P<.0001). Similarly, median SUV max lesion to SUV max liver ratio (ALR) in malignant lesions was higher than in benign lesions (median=3 [0.74-13.4] vs 1.2 [0.5-6.6], respectively, P<.0001). 18FDG-PET/CT ALR >1.8 diagnosed malignancy with a sensitivity of 87%, specificity of 84%, PPV of 85% and NPV of 86%. Conclusion: Noncontract CT radiodensity of ≤10 HU excludes malignancy even in a high-risk population. For indeterminate adrenal lesions, given a superior specificity, 18FDG-PET/CT could be considered as a second stage imaging study.
- Adrenal nodule
- Computed tomography
- Metastatic cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism