Fine-needle aspiration cytology of the adrenal gland. Fifty biopies 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: 2.84). 09/1992; 116(8):841-6.
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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ABSTRACT: Independently, endocrinology, radiology, and nuclear medicine can not optimally differentiate the etiology of the incidental adrenal mass. Rather, the insight necessary for this task must be contributed by all three disciplines. Incidentally discovered adrenal masses are being detected at an increasing rate. This trend is expected to continue based on the incidence of adrenal masses in autopsy series and the increasing use of high resolution abdominal imaging techniques. CT and MRI are able to definitely characterize only a minority of these lesions (simple cyst, myelolipoma, obvious local malignant invasion). Biochemical screening for hormone excess is essential regardless of a nonsuggestive complete history and physical examination. An argument may be made for not further pursuing nonhypersecreting lesions with the typical features of a benign adenoma on CT scan and an attenuation value of 0 HU or less. Adrenocortical scintigraphy is recommended in all patients with normal biochemical screening tests, especially those with CT attenuation values greater than 0 HU. In this setting, we believe that the functional and anatomical information provided by NP-59 and [75Se]selenomethylnorcholesterol scintigraphy allows one to noninvasively, accurately, and less expensively (Table 9) categorize adrenal masses as benign nonhypersecretory adenomas (the vast majority) vs. a possibly malignant lesion (the minority). In the presence of normal biochemistry, a concordant NP-59 imaging pattern is diagnostic of a nonhypersecretory benign adrenal adenoma and requires no immediate therapeutic intervention. Conversely, patients with discordant patterns of NP-59 scintigraphy have lesions that carry a significant risk for malignancy, and the pursuit of a tissue diagnosis is indicated, usually by means of FNA. Normal adrenocortical tissue on cytological studies in this setting may represent inadvertent sampling of adjacent normal adrenocortical tissues or the presence of a well differentiated adrenocortical carcinoma. In patients with lesions larger than 2 cm in whom NP-59 scintigraphy is nonlateralizing, the possibility of a periadrenal or pseudoadrenal mass is likely and should prompt review, or perhaps even repeat, of high resolution adrenal imaging (occasionally angiography may be helpful). In lesions shown to be 2 cm or less in size with a nonlateralizing NP-59-scan, there is a possibility of a periadrenal or pseudoadrenal mass; however, once this is excluded it must be recognized that benign and malignant lesions, because of the limitations of scintigraphy, cannot always be clearly distinguished by this method when masses are small.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
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ABSTRACT: Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is a sensitive and specific technique in the diagnosis of adrenal tumors. However, in rare cases the cytomorphologic features may mimic small cell neoplasms. A 54-year-old male presented with a history of hypertension and left flank pain of recent onset. Abdominal computed tomography (CT) showed a 4-cm mass involving the left adrenal gland. Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) showed groups of small round cells with hyperchromatic nuclei. The findings were highly suspicious for metastatic small cell carcinoma. Subsequently it was learned that the mass had been noted three years earlier on CT studies but had grown from 2.5 to 4 cm. A chest radiograph was unremarkable. The clinical findings were more in keeping with a primary adrenal tumor. Immunohistochemical staining done retrospectively on the cell block showed positive reactivity for chromogranin and neuron-specific enolase. These findings, correlated with the clinical features, were in keeping with a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. Left adrenalectomy revealed a pheochromocytoma. Adrenal pheochromocytoma should be included in the differential diagnosis of small round cell neoplasms seen on FNAB of the adrenal gland. Immunohistochemistry and clinical findings are helpful in reaching the correct diagnosis.
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ABSTRACT: A retrospective review of 54 cases of adrenal gland needle biopsy in 53 patients is presented. The cases included 43 fine-needle aspirations (FNA), six core-needle biopsies, and five cases in which both types of needle biopsy were done. Clinical or histologic follow-up was available in 28 of the 36 specimens deemed adequate for evaluation. Metastatic malignancies represented the largest group of cases (19), with lung being the most common primary site (8). The series included four cases of metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma. Probable adrenocortical adenoma was the next most common diagnosis (12 cases). Cases causing diagnostic confusion included a case of metastatic well-differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma which was initially confused with an adrenocortical adenoma and a probable adrenocortical adenoma which was mistaken for a metastatic small round cell malignancy. (This case is unproved because of lack of clinical or histologic follow-up). By evaluating only those cases with histologic confirmation or clinical follow-up greater than one year, the sensitivity of needle biopsy for the presence of malignancy was 95% and the specificity was 100%. The cytologic findings are described with attention to the potential problem of confusing primary adrenocortical neoplasms with metastases from hepatocellular carcinoma.
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