Clinical study of adrenal incidentaloma in Korea

Young Kim Hee, Gon Kim Sin, Won Lee Kye, Ji A. Seo, Hee Kim Nan, Mook Choi Kyung, Hyun Baik Sei, Seop Choi Dong

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Background : This study was designed to evaluate the clinical, endocrinological and histological characteristics of adrenal incidentalomas. Methods : Eighty patients (41, males; 38, females; age range 17-80 years) who were diagnosed with adrenal incidentaloma at Korea University Hospital from 1992 to 2003 were studied retrospectively. Results : Endocrinological investigation revealed 16 pheochromocytomas (20%), nine Cushing's syndromes (11%), eight primary aldosteronism (10%) and 46 non-functioning tumors (58%). Forty-four patients received operations, and biopsies were performed on two patients. Pathologic examination revealed 16 adrenocortical adenomas (20%), five carcinomas (6%), 13 pheochromocytomas (16%), three metastatic cancers (4%), and other tumors (10%). The diameter of the carcinomas (mean: 10.8 cm, range: 5-19 cm) were significantly larger than the diameter of benign adenomas (mean: 2.84 cm, range: 1-6 cm) (p=0.002). According to the receiver operating charactenstic (ROC) curve analysis, the cut-off value of tumor size for discriminate malignant tumor was 4.75 cm (sensitivity 90%, specificity 58%). Twenty-four patients with non-functioning tumors were followed up for a period of 3 to 72 months. During the follow up period, two patients showed an increase in tumor size of more than 1 cm, and one patient developed Cushing's syndrome. Changes in mass size and function were observed only between 10 and 26 months after the initial diagnosis. Conclusions : These data show that an endocrine evaluation should be performed in all adrenal incidentalomas, and an adrenalectomy is recommended for tumors 5 cm or greater or tumors with adrenocortical hyperfunction. In addition, these tumors should be monitored for changes in mass size and function for a follow up period of approximately 26 months.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
JournalKorean Journal of Internal Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenalectomy
  • Adrenocortical adenoma
  • Carcinoma
  • Hyperfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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