Diagnostic dilemmas in enlarged and diffusely hemorrhagic adrenal glands
Adrenal Gland Diseases
Adrenal Gland Neoplasms
We have noted an increasing number of cases of enlarged adrenal glands where the underlying diagnosis was masked by a diffusely hemorrhagic process. We identified from our database 59 cases (32 consults, 27 routine) of adrenal glands with diffuse (>25%) hemorrhage received between 2000 and 2014. Fifty-three adrenalectomies and 6 biopsies were identified. The diagnoses after central review were 41 adrenocortical adenomas, 1 nodular adrenocortical hyperplasia with associated myelolipoma, 1 benign adrenocortical cyst, and 10 nonneoplastic adrenal glands with hemorrhage. A definitive diagnosis for the 6 biopsies was precluded by the sample size. The adrenocortical adenomas (size, 1-13 cm; 25%-95% hemorrhage) showed clear cell change in the neoplastic area (10%-80% of the tumor), 19 showed focal calcification (1 with ossification), 11 showed areas of papillary endothelial hyperplasia, 10 showed scattered lymphoplasmacytic inflammation, 6 showed benign cortical tissue extending beyond the adrenal capsule into soft tissue, 1 showed necrosis in the form of ghost cells, 2 showed lipomatous change, and 6 were associated with incidental benign lesions (1 cortical cyst, 1 schwannoma, and 4 myelolipomas). Twenty-four of the adrenocortical adenomas were consults where the referring pathologist had trouble classifying the lesion. Of the 10 nonneoplastic adrenals (4.5-22 cm; 40%-80% hemorrhage), 2 were consults. In summary, pathologists have difficulties recognizing adrenocortical adenomas in the setting of a massively enlarged and hemorrhagic adrenal gland. Although there is a correlation between adrenocortical malignancy and size, hemorrhage into nonmalignant adrenal glands can result in markedly enlarged adrenals.