SFE/SFHTA/AFCE consensus on primary aldosteronism, part 4: Subtype diagnosis

Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2016 Jul;77(3):208-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2016.01.008. Epub 2016 Mar 29.


To establish the cause of primary aldosteronism (PA), it is essential to distinguish unilateral from bilateral adrenal aldosterone secretion, as adrenalectomy improves aldosterone secretion and controls hypertension and hypokalemia only in the former. Except in the rare cases of type 1 or 3 familial hyperaldosteronism, which can be diagnosed genetically and are not candidates for surgery, lateralized aldosterone secretion is diagnosed on adrenal CT or MRI and adrenal venous sampling. Postural stimulation tests and (131)I-norcholesterol scintigraphy have poor diagnostic value and (11)C-metomidate PET is not yet available. We recommend that adrenal CT or MRI be performed in all cases of PA. Imaging may exceptionally identify adrenocortical carcinoma, for which the surgical objectives are carcinologic, and otherwise shows either normal or hyperplastic adrenals or unilateral adenoma. Imaging alone carries a risk of false positives in patients over 35 years of age (non-aldosterone-secreting adenoma) and false negatives in all patients (unilateral hyperplasia). We suggest that all candidates for surgery over 35 years of age undergo adrenal venous sampling, simultaneously in both adrenal veins, without ACTH stimulation, to confirm the unilateral form of the hypersecretion. Sampling results should be confirmed on adrenal vein cortisol assay showing a concentration at least double that found in peripheral veins. Aldosterone secretion should be considered lateralized when aldosterone/cortisol ratio on the dominant side is at least 4-fold higher than contralaterally.

Keywords: Adrenal vein sampling; Adénome sécrétant de l’aldostérone; Aldosterone; Aldosterone-secreting adenoma; Aldosteronism; Aldostérone; Cathétérisme veineux surrénal; Hyperaldostéronisme primaire; Primary.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Glands / blood supply
  • Adrenal Glands / diagnostic imaging
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aldosterone / blood
  • Aldosterone / metabolism
  • France
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis*
  • Hyperaldosteronism / etiology
  • Hyperaldosteronism / pathology
  • Hypertension
  • Hypokalemia
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Veins


  • Aldosterone
  • Hydrocortisone