Adrenal vein sampling: how to make it quick, easy, and successful

Radiographics. 2005 Oct;25 Suppl 1:S143-58. doi: 10.1148/rg.25si055514.


Adrenal vein sampling has a reputation as a difficult procedure. However, it is being performed more frequently at some institutions due to the realization that primary aldosteronism is more common than previously believed. At the author's institution, adrenal vein sampling with computed tomographic (CT) and laboratory correlation has been performed more than 800 times in the past 10 years. Adrenal vein sampling is used to determine whether autonomous hormone production is unilateral or bilateral; unilateral secretion can be treated with surgery. The venous drainage of each adrenal gland is predominantly via a central vein. Recognition of the right adrenal vein is the crux of adrenal vein sampling. CT is useful in planning adrenal vein sampling by demonstrating the anatomy and positions of the adrenal veins. A small amount of contrast material is injected gently and slowly into the adrenal vein; it is not necessary to perform formal venography to outline the entire gland. To confirm that the vein is draining the majority of adrenal cortical blood, the adrenal vein sample should have a significantly higher level of cortisol than a peripheral sample. Adrenal glands that are producing aldosterone demonstrate an aldosterone-cortisol ratio that is higher than the peripheral value.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / blood supply*
  • Adrenal Glands / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aldosterone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / blood
  • Phlebotomy / methods*
  • Radiography


  • Aldosterone