Utility of Epinephrine Levels in Determining Adrenal Vein Cannulation During Adrenal Venous Sampling for Primary Aldosteronism

Endocr Pract. 2022 Mar;28(3):276-281. doi: 10.1016/j.eprac.2021.09.009. Epub 2021 Sep 25.


Objective: In patients with primary aldosteronism, adrenal venous sampling (AVS) is performed to determine the presence of unilateral or bilateral adrenal disease. During AVS, verification of catheter positioning within the left adrenal vein (AV) and the right AV by comparison of AV and inferior vena cava (IVC) cortisol levels can be variable. The objective of this study was to determine the utility of AV epinephrine levels in assessing successful AV cannulation.

Methods: This was a single institution, retrospective review of patients who underwent AVS with cosyntropin stimulation for primary aldosteronism between 2009 and 2018. Successful cannulation of the AV was defined by an AV/IVC cortisol ratio selectivity index (SI) ≥3:1. Epinephrine thresholds to predict catheter placement in the AV were determined using logistic regression. The calculated epinephrine thresholds were compared with previously published thresholds.

Results: AVS was performed on 101 consecutive patients and, based on the SI, successful cannulation of the left AV and right AV occurred in 98 (97%) and 91(90%) patients, respectively. The calculated optimal epinephrine threshold to predict AV cannulation was 364 pg/mL (sensitivity, 92.1%; specificity, 94.6%) and the calculated optimal AV/IVC epinephrine ratio threshold was 27.4, (sensitivity, 92.1%; specificity, 91.3%). Among the 14 patients with failed AV cannulation, 3 patients would have been considered to have successful AVS using AV epinephrine levels >364 pg/mL and AV/IVC epinephrine ratio >27.4 thresholds.

Conclusion: Obtaining 2 right AV samples routinely as well as AV and IVC epinephrine levels during AVS could prevent unnecessary repeat AVS in patients with failed AV cannulation based on cortisol-based SI <3:1.

Keywords: adrenal venous sampling; adrenalectomy; bilateral adrenal hyperplasia; epinephrine; primary aldosteronism.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands
  • Aldosterone
  • Catheterization
  • Epinephrine
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Hyperaldosteronism* / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Aldosterone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Epinephrine