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A Journal on Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Affiliated to the and to the International Research Group of Immunoscintigraphy
Indexed/Abstracted in: Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 2,413
Maurea S. 1, Caracò C. 2, Klain M. 1, Mainolfi C. 1, Salvatore M. 1
1 Division of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Department of Biomorphological and Functional Sciences “Federico II” University of Naples, Naples, Italy
2 Institute of Biostructures and Bioimages National Council for Researches (CNR), Naples, Italy
Aim. In patients with non-hypersecreting adrenal masses, tumor characterization is clinically relevant to establish the appropriate treatment planning. The aim of this study was to comparatively characterize such adrenal lesions using MR and radionuclide techniques.
Methods. Thirty patients with non-hypersecreting unilateral adrenal tumors underwent both MR and adrenal scintigraphy. MR was performed using SE T1- (pre- and post-gadolinium DTPA) and T2-weighted images as well as in- and out-phase chemical-shift imaging (CSI). MR qualitative and quantitative (signal intensity ratios) evaluation was performed. Radionuclide studies consisted of iodine-131 nor-cholesterol (n=20), iodine-131 MIBG (n=15) and fluorine-18 FDG PET (n=11) scans. Histology (n=16), biopsy (n=3) or clinical-imaging follow-up (n=11) demomstrated 13 adenomas, 3 cysts, 2 myelolipomas, 4 pheochromocytomas (pheos), 4 carcinomas, 1 sarcoma and 3 metastases. Comparative imaging analysis was focused on adenomas, pheos and malignant tumors. Results. Qualitative MR evaluation showed: signal T2-hyperintensity in 46% of adenomas and in 100% of pheos and malignant tumors, no gadolinium enhancement in 92% of adenomas and definite signal intensity loss on CSI in 100% of such tumor lesions, gadolinium enhancement in 100% of pheos and in 63% of malignancies and no absolute change of signal intensity on CSI in 100% of both pheos and malignancies. Quantitative MR analysis demonstrated: significantly higher signal T2-hyperintensity of pheos compared to adenomas and malignancies as well as significantly higher enhancement after gadolinium in pheos compared to adenomas and malignancies (p<0.03). Radionuclide studies showed significantly increased nor-cholesterol uptake only in adenomas (n=13), significant MIBG accumulation only in pheos (n=4) and FDG activity only in malignant adrenal lesions (n=8).
Conclusion. MR techniques may provide some presumptive criteria to characterize non-hypersecreting adrenal masses, such as no gadolinium enhancement and definite signal intensity loss on CSI in adenomas or quantitatively measured T2-hyperintensity and gadolinium enhancement in pheos. On the other hand, radionuclide modalities offer more specific findings in this setting since nor-cholesterol and MIBG scans are respectively able to reveal benign tumors such as adenoma and pheochromocytoma, while FDG imaging allows identification of malignant adrenal lesions. Adrenal scintigraphy is recommended in those patients, when MR images are uncertain or inconclusive.