Spectrum of CT Findings in Nonmalignant Disease of the Adrenal Gland

Akira Kawashima, Carl M. Sandler, Elliot K. Fishman, Chusilp Charnsangavej, Kotaro Yasumori, Hiroshi Honda, Randy D. Ernst, Naoki Takahashi, Bharat K. Raval, Kouji Masuda, Stanford M. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Computed tomography (CT) plays a leading role in the evaluation of nonmalignant disease of the adrenal gland. CT is highly accurate in the localization of adrenal masses in patients with diseases associated with hyperfunctioning adrenal glands such as Cushing syndrome and Cushing disease, Conn syndrome, adrenal tumors leading to virilization or feminization, and pheochromocytomas. CT permits a specific diagnosis of acute or subacute adrenal hematoma and myelolipoma. Hematomas are round to oval and have increased attenuation (50-90 HU) that decreases on follow-up CT scans. Myelolipomas typically manifest as a well-defined suprarenal mass with an attenuation of -30 to -115 HU. Adrenal cysts are usually round to oval and manifest as a hypoattenuating mass with a smooth, thin wall. CT is useful in the evaluation of patients with Addison disease, particularly the subacute form secondary to tuberculosis or disseminated histoplasmosis. Findings typically include bilateral adrenal enlargement with a central necrotic area of hypoattenuation and peripheral enhancement. Thin-section unenhanced CT permits accurate measurement of attenuation and can be used to differentiate adrenal adenoma from metastasis in a cancer patient with an indeterminate mass: Attenuation of 10 HU or less usually indicates adenoma rather than cancer. If the mass is found incidentally at contrast material-enhanced CT, delayed scans obtained as early as 5-15 minutes after intravenous administration of contrast material appear to have comparable accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-412
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Adrenal gland, CT, 86.1211
  • Adrenal gland, cysts, 86.31
  • Adrenal gland, diseases, 86.2053, 86.23, 86.54
  • Adrenal gland, hemorrhage, 86.546
  • Adrenal gland, neoplasms, 86.31, 86.328
  • Pheochromocytoma, 86.328

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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