Use of PET/CT with cosyntropin stimulation to identify and localize adrenal rest tissue following adrenalectomy in a woman with congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Melissa K. Crocker, Stephanie Barak, Corina M. Millo, Stephanie A. Beall, Mahtab Niyyati, Richard Chang, Nilo A. Avila, Carol Van Ryzin, James Segars, Martha Quezado, Deborah P. Merke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Adrenalectomy is an experimental treatment option for select patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia who have failed medical therapy. After adrenalectomy, adrenal rest tissue can remain in extraadrenal locations, cause recurrent hyperandrogenism, and be difficult to localize. Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate the usefulness of positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT) in identifying adrenal rest tissue. Subject: A female with salt-wasting 21-hydroxylase deficiency who had bilateral adrenalectomy at age 17 yr presented with hyperandrogenism at age 32 yr. Pelvic magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound imaging were nondiagnostic for the source of androgen production. Methods and Results: A baseline F-18 labeled fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG) PET/CT scan showed no active uptake; however, a second scan preceded by a 250-μg cosyntropin injection identified three areas of active uptake near both ovaries. Subsequent ovarian venous sampling showed elevations in 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, and 21-deoxycortisol in both ovarian veins compared to a peripheral vein at baseline and more so after cosyntropin administration. At laparoscopy, three well-circumscribed nodules (2.4 x 0.9 x 1.3 cm, 1.2 x 1.5 x 1.5 cm, and 2 x 1.5 x 1 cm) lying lateral to the fallopian tubes adjacent to the broad ligaments were removed. The paraovarian nodules and previously removed adrenal glands had similar histology and immunohistochemistry. Postoperatively, androgen concentrations were undetectable, with no response to cosyntropin stimulation. Conclusions: Patients with CAH after an adrenalectomy may experience recurrent hyperandrogenism due to adrenal rest tissue. 18F-FDG PET/CT with cosyntropin stimulation accurately identified adrenal rest tissue not visualized with conventional imaging, allowing for successful surgical resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2084-E2089
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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