The management of adrenal incidentaloma is still a challenge with respect to determining its functionality (hormone secretion) and malignancy. In this light, we performed 18F-FDG PET/CT scan to assess the SUVmax values in different adrenal masses including Cushing syndrome, pheochromocytoma, primary hyperaldosteronism and non-functional adrenal adenomas.
Total 109 (73 F, 36 M) patients with adrenal mass (incidentaloma), mean age of 53.3 ± 10.2 years (range, 24–70) were screened by 18F-FDG PET/CT. Data of 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging of the patients were assessed by the same specialist. Adrenal masses were identified according to the calculated standardized uptake values (SUVs). Clinical examination, 24-h urine cortisol, catecholamine metabolites, 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test, aldosterone/renin ratio and serum electrolytes were analyzed.
Based on the clinical and hormonal evaluations, there were 100 patients with non-functional adrenal mass, four with cortisol-secreting, four with pheochromocytomas and one with aldosterone-secreting adenoma. Mean adrenal mass diameter of 109 patients was 2.1 ± 4.3 (range, 1–6.5 cm). The 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging of the patients revealed that lower SUVmax values were found in non-functional adrenal masses (SUVmax 3.2) when compared to the functional adrenal masses including four with cortisol-secreting adenoma (SUVmax 10.1); four with pheochromcytoma (SUVmax 8.7) and one with aldosterone-secreting adenomas (SUVmax 3.30). Cortisol-secreting (Cushing syndrome) adrenal masses showed the highest SUVmax value (10.1), and a cut-off SUVmax of 4.135 was found with an 84.6% sensitivity and 75.6% specificity cortisol-secreting adrenal adenoma.
Consistent with the similar studies, non-functional adrenal adenomas typically do not show increased FDG uptake and a certain form of functional adenoma could present various FDG uptake in FDG PET/CT. Especially functional adrenal adenomas (cortisol secreting was the highest) showed increased FDG uptake in comparison to the non-functional adrenal masses. Therefore, setting a specific SUVmax value in the differentiation of malignant adrenal lesion from the benign one is risky and further studies, including a high number of functional adrenal mass are needed.