Acute adrenal crisis together with unilateral adrenal mass caused by isolated tuberculosis of adrenal gland

Endocr Pract. 2003 Mar-Apr;9(2):157-61. doi: 10.4158/EP.9.2.157.


Objective: To describe a patient admitted with acute adrenocortical failure and a right adrenal mass without evidence of tuberculosis, who was ultimately diagnosed with isolated adrenal tuberculosis after postoperative histopathologic evaluation.

Methods: A case report is presented, with clinical, laboratory, and imaging findings. We also discuss potential factors that may complicate the diagnosis of tuberculosis.

Results: A 61-year-old man was admitted with symptoms and signs of acute adrenal crisis. The patient had an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 30 mm in 1 hour, a negative tuberculin skin test, a 6-cm right adrenal mass, and left adrenal nodularity in conjunction with normal findings on a computed tomographic scan of the chest. He recovered dramatically after intravenous corticosteroid treatment. Investigation, including acid-fast staining and cultures for tuberculosis of all available specimens, gastroduodenoscopy and rectosigmoidoscopy, intestinal x-ray imaging, and autoantibody studies, did not disclose the diagnosis. Subsequently, bilateral adrenalectomy revealed isolated tuberculosis of the adrenal glands on histopathologic evaluation. Quadruple antituberculous therapy was initiated, and continued follow-up of the patient is scheduled.

Conclusion: Our case indicates that acute or chronic adrenocortical failure can occur as a result of tuberculosis of the adrenal gland, despite the absence of clinical and laboratory evidence of tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / microbiology*
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / pathology
  • Giant Cells, Langhans / pathology
  • Histiocytes / pathology
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tuberculosis, Endocrine / complications*


  • Hormones