Performance of Confirmatory Tests for Diagnosing Primary Aldosteronism: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Hypertension. 2022 Aug;79(8):1835-1844. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.19377. Epub 2022 Jun 2.


Background: Confirmatory tests are recommended for diagnosing primary aldosteronism, but the supporting evidence is unclear.

Methods: We searched Medline, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. Studies evaluating any guideline-recommended confirmatory test (ie, saline infusion test, salt loading test, fludrocortisone suppression test, and captopril challenge test), compared with a reference standard were included. The Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2 tool was used to assess the risk of bias. Meta-analyses were conducted using hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic models.

Results: Fifty-five studies were included, comprising 26 studies (3654 participants) for the recumbent saline infusion test, 4 studies (633 participants) for the seated saline infusion test, 2 studies (99 participants) for the salt loading test, 7 studies (386 participants) for the fludrocortisone suppression test, and 25 studies (2585 participants) for the captopril challenge test. Risk of bias was high, affecting more than half of studies, and across all domains. Studies with case-control sampling overestimated accuracy by 7-fold (relative diagnostic odds ratio, 7.26 [95% CI, 2.46-21.43]) and partial verification or use of inconsistent reference standards overestimated accuracy by 5-fold (5.12 [95% CI, 1.48-17.77]). There were large variations in how confirmatory tests were conducted, interpreted, and verified. Under most scenarios, confirmatory testing resulted in an excess of missed cases. The certainty of evidence underlying each test (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations) was very low.

Conclusions: Recommendations for confirmatory testing in patients with abnormal screening tests and high probability features of primary aldosteronism are based on very low-quality evidence and their routine use should be reconsidered.

Keywords: aldosterone; captopril; fludrocortisone; phenotype; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Captopril*
  • Fludrocortisone
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism* / diagnosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Captopril
  • Fludrocortisone

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