Which imaging studies are indicated in the workup of adrenal crisis?

Updated: Feb 14, 2018
  • Author: Lisa Kirkland, MD, FACP, FCCM, MSHA; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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See the list below:

  • Chest radiography: Assess for tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, malignant disease, sarcoid, and lymphoma.

  • Abdominal CT scanning: Visualize adrenal glands for hemorrhage (as in the image below), atrophy, infiltrative disorders, and metastatic disease. Adrenal hemorrhage appears as hyperdense, bilaterally enlarged adrenal glands.

    Computed tomographic (CT) scans of the abdomen sho Computed tomographic (CT) scans of the abdomen show normal adrenal glands several months before the onset of hemorrhage (upper panel) and enlarged adrenals 2 weeks after an acute episode of bilateral adrenal hemorrhage (lower panel). The attenuation of the adrenal glands, indicated by arrows, is increased after the acute event. Reproduced from Rao RH, Vagnucci AH, Amico JA: Bilateral massive adrenal hemorrhage: early recognition and treatment. Ann Intern Med. Feb 1 1989;110(3):227-35 with permission from the journal.

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