Missed Opportunities to Promptly Diagnose and Treat Adrenal Tumors

J Surg Res. 2022 Aug:276:174-181. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2022.02.049. Epub 2022 Mar 30.


Introduction: Adrenal mass management guidelines are insufficiently applied, and timeliness of treatment is unknown. We evaluated missed opportunities to promptly diagnose and treat adrenal tumors that ultimately required adrenalectomy.

Methods: From the Veterans Affairs Corporate Data Warehouse, we identified patients who underwent adrenalectomy (2010-2016) in the South-Central Veterans Affairs HealthCare Network and reviewed their records. Diagnostic timeliness was assessed by the interval between initial (index) imaging with adrenal abnormality and the next diagnostic step. Workup was defined as early (interval ≤6 mo) or late (>6 mo). Adrenalectomy was considered prompt when the interval between index imaging and adrenalectomy was ≤12 mo and delayed when this was >12 mo. We quantified diagnostic and treatment delays and assessed factors associated with delayed adrenalectomy.

Results: During the study period, 84 patients underwent adrenalectomy: male (86.9%), White (57.1%), with a mean age of 58.7 y (±8.8). Of those, 25 (29.8%) had late workup, and 36 (42.9%) had delayed surgery (median interval: 44 mo, range 14-282). Late hormonal workup occurred in 24 of 36 (66.7%) patients with delayed surgery, compared with one of 48 (2.1%, P < 0.001) with prompt surgery.

Conclusions: Missed opportunities in prompt diagnosis and treatment were common in patients with adrenal masses ultimately requiring adrenalectomy. Late hormonal workup is associated with delayed adrenalectomy. Interventions are needed to aid clinicians to recognize the presence, promptly evaluate, and make guideline-informed decisions on the management of an adrenal mass.

Keywords: Adrenal incidentaloma; Adrenal tumor; Diagnostic delay; Missed opportunities; Timeliness of treatment; Veterans Affairs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Adrenalectomy / methods
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies