Primary adrenocortical carcinoma: Sonographic evaluation with clinical and pathologic correlation in 26 patients

U. M. Hamper, E. K. Fishman, D. S. Hartman, J. L. Roberts, R. C. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sonograms of 26 patients (19 adults and seven children) with pathologically proven diagnoses of primary adrenocortical carcinoma were evaluated. Clinical corroboration was obtained in all cases. The size of the lesions ranged from 3 to 22 cm. The five smaller lesions (3-6 cm) showed a homogeneous echo pattern, similar to renal cortical echogenicity. The 21 larger lesions varied in echo texture, having a heterogeneous appearance with focal or scattered echopenic or echogenic zones representing areas of tumor necrosis, hemorrhage, and/or, rarely (19%), calcification. Even the largest lesions were fairly well delineated, often with a lobulated border. Few (7/26 or 27%) showed a surrounding echogenic thin capsulelike rim. All five small lesions showed clinical evidence of endocrine activity. Larger lesions were hormonally active less often (9/21 or 43%). Twelve patients (46%) showed no sign of endocrine activity and presented with symptoms such as fever, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, abdominal mass, hematuria, and hypertension. In the pediatric and adolescent age group (0-16 years), all tumors were hormonally active, while only seven (37%) of tumors in the adult population (17-69 years) were hormonally active. Unfortunately no echo pattern was characteristic enough to allow differentiation of adrenal adenoma from carcinoma. Smaller lesions are more likely to be benign, and larger lesions with areas of necrosis, hemorrhage, and calcification are more likely to be malignant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-919
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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