Fine-needle aspiration cytology of adrenal masses: A re-assessment with histological confirmation

G. Tirabassi, B. Kola, M. Ferretti, R. Papa, T. Mancini, F. Mantero, M. Scarpelli, M. Boscaro, G. Arnaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of adrenal masses is a method currently indicated in lesions suspected of being extra-adrenal in origin; even though its diagnostic reliability has already been determined in many studies, few have used histological examination obtained after adrenalectomy for diagnostic confirmation. Aim: To analyze the diagnostic performance of adrenal FNA in subjects with an available histological confirmation. Subjects and methods: Fifty subjects (26 benign adrenal lesions, 9 primary malignant lesions, and 15 metastatic lesions) who had undergone ultrasound (US)-guided adrenal FNA and then adrenalectomy were re-analyzed retrospectively. Results: FNA guaranteed a sensitivity of 85.7% and a specificity of 100% in all subjects; after having divided the subjects into oncologic and non-oncologic groups, the sensitivity of the test in oncologic patients (100%) increased significantly compared to non-oncologic (57.1%) with no difference in specificity (100% in both groups). Considering also non-diagnostic samples in our analysis (no.=11; 22% of all samples studied), FNA correctly diagnosed malignancy only in 75% of the cases and benignancy only in 66.6%; however, even after including nondiagnostic samples, the percentage of correct malignancy diagnosis remained significantly higher in oncologic (93.3%) than in non-oncologic patients (44.4%) without significant statistical difference between the 2 groups regarding the percentage of correct benignancy diagnosis (respectively 100% and 63.6%). Conclusions: Our study, based on histological confirmation, underlines the low discriminant value of US-guided adrenal FNA, though the method may have value in oncologic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-594
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Adrenal glands
  • Biopsy-needle
  • Cancer
  • Diagnosis
  • Sensitivity and specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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