Computed Tomography Appearance of Surgically Resected Adrenal Hematomas

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Adrenal hemorrhages arise as a result of a number of conditions and may exhibit a variety of appearances on computed tomography (CT). On occasion, patients will undergo adrenalectomy for treatment of a presumptive adrenal neoplasm that on surgical pathology is identified as an adrenal hemorrhage. We evaluated the CT appearance of surgically resected adrenal masses from our institution over a period of 15 years that ultimately proved to be adrenal hematomas.


A surgical pathology archive was queried for all cases of adrenal hemorrhage. Only cases with a corresponding diagnostic CT were included. Cases were excluded if an underlying adrenal mass was present. For the remaining cases, the CT appearances were evaluated by 2 radiologists quantitatively and qualitatively.


Our search yielded 18 cases of adrenal hemorrhage, of which 5 cases had corresponding CT and no underlying secondary process within the adrenal. All of the adrenal hematomas in this series demonstrated an ovoid morphology and were well defined, with an average maximum diameter of 8.9 cm and highly variable attenuation on noncontrast CT (average attenuation range, 13.1–44.0 Hounsfield units [HU]). Four of the 5 lesions had degrees of peripheral enhancement that was either thin and somewhat uniform or heterogeneous and irregular. None of the lesions demonstrated invasion of the periadrenal fat or adjacent organs.


Adrenal hematomas with a mass-like configuration offer a potential diagnostic dilemma for radiologists and surgeons. Although it is rare that an adrenal hemorrhage is surgically resected, awareness of the potential appearances of these lesions is important to spare patients from unnecessarily aggressive surgery.

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