Adenoma CT

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Adenoma Microchapters


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Differentiating Adenoma from other Diseases

Epidemiology & Demographics

Risk Factors


Natural History, Complications & Prognosis


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]



Unenchanced CT

  • Adrenal adenomas appear as small (<3 cm), well-defined homogeneous masses that are typically hypoattenuating relative to the liver.
  • At an attenuation value of less than 0 HU at unenhanced CT, the diagnosis of an adenoma can be made with 100% confidence; however, this threshold has only 47% sensitivity.
  • At cutoff of 18 HU, a diagnosis of adenoma was made with 100% specificity and 85% sensitivity, compared to the specificity:sensitivity ratio of 68%:100% with a more conservative cutoff of 10 HU.
  • A rational approach advocated by some authorities is to choose the CT number threshold on the basis of the patient’s risk for metastatic disease. For example, a threshold of 10 HU could be applied to older patients or to those with known primary malignancies. A threshold of 18 HU could be applied to younger patients without underlying cancer.

Enhanced CT

  • Lipid-poor adenomas are more difficult to diagnose because the CT numbers increase and approach those of soft tissue.
  • Contrast-enhanced imaging with 10-minute-delayed CT scans may be helpful in these cases.
    • By using a threshold of 30 HU, the sensitivity and specificity for delayed contrast-enhanced CT in the characterization of benign disease are 80% and 100%, respectively.
    • A relative percentage washout of more than 50% in the delayed study represents a sensitivity and specificity of 98% and 100%, respectively, for the detection of adenoma.


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