Presentation and outcomes of adrenal ganglioneuromas: A cohort study and a systematic review of literature

Kelley N. Dages, Jacob D. Kohlenberg, William F. Young, Mohammad Hassan Murad, Larry Prokop, Michael Rivera, Benzon Dy, Trenton Foster, Melanie Lyden, Travis McKenzie, Geoffrey Thompson, Irina Bancos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe the presentation and outcomes of patients with adrenal ganglioneuromas (AGNs). Design: Single-centre retrospective cohort study (1 January 1995 to 31 December 2019) and systematic review of literature (1 January 1980 to 19 November 2019). Patients: Diagnosed with histologically confirmed AGN. Measurements: Baseline clinical, imaging and biochemical characteristics, recurrence rates and mortality. Subgroup analysis was performed on tumours with histologic elements of ganglioneuroma and pheochromocytoma (ie composite tumours). Results: The cohort study included 45 patients with AGN, 20 (44%) of which had composite tumours. Compared to pure AGN, patients with composite tumour were older (median age, 62.5 vs. 35 years, p <.001), had smaller tumours (median size, 3.9 vs. 5.7 cm, p =.016) and were discovered incidentally less frequently (65% vs. 84%, p =.009). No recurrences or ganglioneuroma-specific mortality occurred during follow-up (range, 0–266 months). The systematic review included 14 additional studies and 421 patients. The mean age of diagnosis was 39 years, and 47% were women. AGNs were discovered incidentally in 72% of patients, were predominantly unilateral (99%) and had a mean diameter of 5.8 cm and an unenhanced computed tomography (CT) attenuation of −118 to 49 Hounsfield units (HU). On imaging, 69% of AGNs were homogenous, 41% demonstrated calcifications, and 40% were lobulated. Conclusions: AGNs are rare benign tumours that present with variable imaging features including large size, unenhanced CT attenuation >20 HU, calcifications and lobulated shape. Imaging characteristics can assist in establishing a diagnosis and avoiding an unnecessary adrenalectomy. The association of pheochromocytomas with AGNs is frequent. Diagnosis should include biochemical testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • adrenal imaging
  • adrenal mass
  • adrenalectomy
  • composite tumour
  • pheochromocytoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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