The role of percutaneous CT-guided biopsy of an adrenal lesion in patients with known or suspected lung cancer

Lung Cancer

Abdom Radiol (NY). 2020 Sep 18. doi: 10.1007/s00261-020-02743-9. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: To determine the sensitivity, specificity, and complication rate of percutaneous adrenal biopsy in patients with known or suspected lung cancer.

METHODS: This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at our institution as a retrospective analysis; therefore, the need for informed consent was waived. All percutaneous adrenal biopsies performed between April 1993 and May 2019 were reviewed. 357 of 582 biopsies were performed on 343 patients with known or suspected lung cancer (M:F 164:179; mean age 66 years). The biopsy results were classified into malignant, benign, or non-diagnostic. The final diagnosis was established by pathology (biopsy and/or surgical resection) or imaging follow-up on CT for at least 12 months following the biopsy. Patients with less than 12 months follow-up were excluded (n = 44). Complications were recorded.

RESULTS: The final diagnosis was metastatic lung cancer in 235 cases (77.8%), metastasis from an extrapulmonary primary in 2 cases (0.7%), pheochromocytoma in 2 cases (0.7%), and benign lesions in 63 cases (20.9%). Percutaneous adrenal gland biopsy had a sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 100% for lung cancer metastases. The non-diagnostic rate was 0.6%. Larger lesions were more likely to be malignant (p = 0.0000) and to be correctly classified as a lung metastasis (p = 0.025). The incidence of minor complications was 1.1%. There were no major complications.

CONCLUSION: Over 20% of adrenal lesions in patients with known or suspected lung cancer were not related to lung cancer. Percutaneous adrenal gland biopsy is a safe procedure, with high sensitivity and specificity for lung cancer metastases.