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A Method for Quantifying Adrenocortical Nodular Hyperplasia at Autopsy: Some Use of the Method in Illuminating Hypertension and Atherosclerosis

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A Method for Quantifying Adrenocortical Nodular Hyperplasia at Autopsy: Some Use of the Method in Illuminating Hypertension and Atherosclerosis

Richard E Tracy et al. Ann Diagn Pathol.

Abstract

Quantifying the severity of adrenocortical nodular hyperplasia at autopsy or surgery has much potential practical value. For instance, this inquiry explores the correlation of adrenal nodularity with features of atherosclerosis in coronary arteries and microvascular features of hypertension in the renal cortex. Tissue retrieved from forensic autopsies in 96 men and women ages 16 to 88 years were evaluated for adrenal nodularity, coronary atheroma, and hypertensive renal microvasculopathies. Formalin-fixed adrenal glands were cut into 0.5-cm thick slices and fixed to plastic sheets with SuperGlue (Ross Products, Inc, Columbus, OH). After ranking the specimens on increasing nodularity, they were judged to fall into 10 distinguishable grades of increasing severity; photographs of a representative in each grade were arranged onto a panel. Each gland was then assigned the grade of the photograph it most resembled. Coronaries and kidneys were evaluated in paraffin sections. Weight and nodularity of adrenal glands increased with age. Men with at least one instance of atheroma in the coronary sample had heavier and more nodular glands (age-adjusted) than in men without atheroma. The differences held stronger statistical significance for nodularity than for weight because nodularity continued to show significance even within age groups sometimes represented by few cases. Hypertensive renal microvasculopathies failed to correlate with any of the adrenal features. Women were too few for the analysis. Findings made with the panel of photographs now available for grading adrenocortical nodular hyperplasia showed interesting correlations with coronary atherosclerosis in this data set, suggesting that use of this method might offer some insight into cardiovascular disease.

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