PURPOSE: Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is standard treatment for patients with unilateral aldosterone-producing adenomas, but surgeons are increasingly tempted to perform partial adrenalectomy, disregarding potential multinodularity of the adrenal. We assess the diagnostic value of endoscopic ultrasound for differentiating solitary adenomas from multinodularity by examining in-depth adrenal pathology with ex vivo 11.7 T magnetic resonance imaging and immunohistochemistry. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In 15 primary aldosteronism patients, we performed intraoperative endoscopic ultrasound, ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging and histopathological examination. Every adrenal was intraoperatively and postoperatively assessed for solitary adenomas or multinodular hyperplasia. After unblinding for ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging results a second detailed histopathological examination, including immunohistochemistry analysis with CYP11B2 (aldosterone synthase) and chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), a new marker for aldosterone-producing adenomas, was performed. Finally, presence of somatic mutations linked to aldosterone-producing adenomas was assessed. RESULTS: The sensitivity and specificity of endoscopic ultrasound to identify multinodularity were 46% and 50%, respectively. We found multinodular hyperplasia in 87% of adrenals with ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging combined with detailed histopathology, and 6 adrenals contained multiple CYP11B2-producing nodules. Every CYP11B2 positive nodule and 61% of CYP11B2 negative nodules showed CXCR4 staining. Finally, in 4 adrenals (27%) we found somatic mutations. In multinodular glands, only 1 nodule harbored this mutation. CONCLUSIONS: Intraoperative endoscopic ultrasound in primary aldosteronism patients has low accuracy to identify multinodularity. Ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging can serve as a tool to direct detailed histopathological examination, which frequently shows CYP11B2 production in multiple nodules. Therefore, partial adrenalectomy is inappropriate in primary aldosteronism as multiple aldosterone-producing nodules easily stay behind.
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