The subtyping of primary aldosteronism by adrenal vein sampling: sequential blood sampling causes factitious lateralization

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The pulsatile secretion of adrenocortical hormones and a stress reaction occurring when starting adrenal vein sampling (AVS) can affect the selectivity and also the assessment of lateralization when sequential blood sampling is used. We therefore tested the hypothesis that a simulated sequential blood sampling could decrease the diagnostic accuracy of lateralization index for identification of aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA), as compared with bilaterally simultaneous AVS.

Methods and results:

In 138 consecutive patients who underwent subtyping of primary aldosteronism, we compared the results obtained simultaneously bilaterally when starting AVS (t-15) and 15 min after (t0), with those gained with a simulated sequential right-to-left AVS technique (R ⇒ L) created by combining hormonal values obtained at t-15 and at t0. The concordance between simultaneously obtained values at t-15 and t0, and between simultaneously obtained values and values gained with a sequential R ⇒ L technique, was also assessed. We found a marked interindividual variability of lateralization index values in the patients with bilaterally selective AVS at both time point. However, overall the lateralization index simultaneously determined at t0 provided a more accurate identification of APA than the simulated sequential lateralization indexR ⇒ L (P = 0.001). Moreover, regardless of which side was sampled first, the sequential AVS technique induced a sequence-dependent overestimation of lateralization index. While in APA patients the concordance between simultaneous AVS at t0 and t-15 and between simultaneous t0 and sequential technique was moderate-to-good (K = 0.55 and 0.66, respectively), in non-APA patients, it was poor (K = 0.12 and 0.13, respectively).


Sequential AVS generates factitious between-sides gradients, which lower its diagnostic accuracy, likely because of the stress reaction arising upon starting AVS.

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