Primary aldosteronism: Results of adrenalectomy for nonsingle adenoma

Amy R. Quillo, Clive S. Grant, Geoffrey B. Thompson, David R. Farley, Melanie L. Richards, William F. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Historically, treatment of confirmed primary aldosteronism has been adrenalectomy for unilateral adenoma; bilateral hypersecretion is treated medically. Increasingly, we use adrenal venous sampling (AVS) to define unilateral hypersecretion. Histology of glands resected based on AVS often reveals multiple nodules or hyperplasia. The aim of this study was to compare patients with multiple nodules or hyperplasia with those with single adenoma with regard to cure, preoperative imaging, AVS ratio, and biochemical evaluation to determine if a nonsingle adenoma (NSA) process could be predicted to impact extent of adrenalectomy. Study Design: This was a retrospective study reviewing a single-institutional surgical experience at a tertiary academic center from 1993 to 2008, during which 215 patients with primary aldosteronism underwent unilateral adrenalectomy based on imaging of a single adenoma (normal contralateral gland) or AVS ratios. Histology included single adenoma versus NSA; cure was defined as normal immediate postoperative plasma or urine aldosterone level, normal aldosterone:renin ratio, or normotension without antihypertensive medications. Results: Follow-up (mean 13 months, range 0 to 185 months) was available for 167 patients: 132 (79%) single adenoma and 35 (21%) NSA. All 35 patients with NSA and 128 patients (97%) with single adenoma were cured. Imaging studies correctly predicted NSA in 29% and 57% when combined with AVS. Identifying patients with NSA preoperatively was impossible biochemically: mean serum and urinary aldosterone levels and AVS ratios were not different than those of the single adenoma group. Conclusions: Twenty-one percent of patients had NSA, all cured by unilateral adrenalectomy. No preoperative evaluation reliably predicted NSA. Therefore, total unilateral adrenalectomy was safest given the potential for incomplete resection with partial adrenalectomy. Accurate AVS is highly predictive of cure irrespective of the unilateral adrenal histology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-112
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • APA
  • AVS
  • IHA
  • NSA
  • PA
  • PAC
  • PRA
  • adrenal venous sampling
  • aldosterone-producing adenoma
  • idiopathic hyperplasia
  • nonsingle adenoma
  • plasma aldosterone concentration
  • plasma renin activity
  • primary aldosteronism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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