Adrenal incidentaloma in adults - management recommendations by the Polish Society of Endocrinology

Endokrynol Pol. 2016;67(2):234-58. doi: 10.5603/EP.a2016.0039.


Introduction: A wide use of imaging techniques results in more frequent diagnosis of adrenal incidenataloma.

Aim: To analyse the current state of knowledge on adrenal incidentaloma in adults in order to prepare practical management recommendations.

Methods: Following a discussion, the Polish Society of Endocrinology expert working group have analysed the available data and summarised the analysis results in the form of recommendations.

Imaging and hormonal assessment: Unenhanced adrenal computed tomography (CT) may be recommended as an initial assessment examination helpful in the differentiation between adenomas and "non-adenomatous" lesions. In the case of density > 10 Hounsfield units, CT with contrast medium washout assessment or MRI are recommended. However, in all patients with adrenal incidentaloma, hormonal assessment is recommended in order to exclude pheochromocytoma and hypercortisolism, notwithstanding the clinical picture or concomitant diseases. In addition, examination to exclude primary hyperaldosteronism is suggested in patients with diagnosed hypertension or hypokalaemia.

Treatment: Surgical treatment should be recommended in patients with adrenal incidentaloma, where imaging examinations suggest a malignant lesion (oncological indication) or with confirmed hormonal activity (endocrinological indication). The basis of the surgical treatment is laparoscopic adrenalectomy. Patients with suspected pheochromocytoma must be pharmacologically prepared prior to surgery. In patients not qualified for surgery, control examinations (imaging and laboratory tests) should be established individually, taking into consideration such features as the size, image, and growth dynamics of the tumour, clinical symptoms, hormonal tests results, and concomitant diseases.

Keywords: adrenal incidentaloma; adrenocortical carcinoma; pheochromocytoma.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / therapy
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management*
  • Endocrinology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis
  • Pheochromocytoma / diagnosis
  • Poland
  • Societies, Medical*

Supplementary concepts

  • Adrenal incidentaloma