Fine-needle aspiration cytology of the adrenal gland. Fifty biopsies in 48 patients.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, NC 27858-4354.
Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine (Impact Factor: 2.78). 09/1992; 116(8):841-6.
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ABSTRACT Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of 50 adrenal masses from 48 patients was performed between 1984 and 1991. The series consisted of 28 males and 20 females, with an age range of 12 months to 79 years (mean age, 55 years). Clinical and/or pathologic follow-up was available in 37 patients. Fine-needle aspiration was diagnostic in all 29 malignant cases having follow-up, with no false-positive diagnoses. There were six primary malignancies (three neuroblastomas, two pheochromocytomas, and one adrenal cortical carcinoma) and 23 metastatic lesions. Of these, the lung was the most frequent primary malignancy (60%), followed by melanoma and renal cell carcinoma (8.6% each). The remaining nonmalignant fine-needle aspiration diagnoses were adrenal cortical neoplasms (most likely adenoma), adrenal cortical hyperplasia, myelolipoma, benign adrenal tissue, and abscess. Based on clinical follow-up, three other adrenal adenomas were not diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration. Six biopsy specimens (12%) were insufficient for diagnosis. Ancillary studies including electron microscopy and/or immunocytochemistry were performed on 13 malignant aspirates and provided additional confirmation of the cytology diagnosis in 12 cases. This study confirms that fine-needle aspiration is a sensitive and highly specific procedure for the evaluation of primary and metastatic malignancies involving the adrenal gland. The technique is less useful in the workup of benign processes but, in some instances, can provide specific diagnostic information.

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