The Role of Positron Emission Tomography in Selecting Patients with Metastatic Cancer for Adrenalectomy

Harrison, Jacqueline; Prinz, Richard; Ali, Amjad; Bonomi, Philip
May 2000
American Surgeon;May2000, Vol. 66 Issue 5, p432
Academic Journal
Metastases to the adrenal glands usually signal disseminated disease. However, isolated metastases do occur that may be curable with adrenalectomy. Functional imaging with positron emission tomography (PET) can differentiate benign from malignant pathology and isolated from disseminated metastases. The purpose of this study was to determine whether PET scanning can influence the outcome of adrenalectomy for metastatic disease. We conducted a retrospective review of eight patients undergoing adrenalectomy for presumed isolated metastatic disease from 1985 through 1997. The patients included six women and two men with an average age of 58 (range, 36-74). Their primary tumors were six lung carcinomas, one renal cell carcinoma, and one colon carcinoma. The adrenal masses were located on the right in six patients, on the left in one, and bilaterally in one. Before operation, all patients were evaluated by chest and abdominal CT. Four patients were also evaluated by PET scan. Six right, one left, and one bilateral adrenalectomies were performed. Associated organ resections included two right partial nephrectomies and one right total nephrectomy, one left partial nephrectomy, two distal pancreatectomies, one splenectomy, and two partial hepatic resections. All eight patients survived operation. There were no major perioperative complications, but one patient required readmission for congestive heart failure. Three of the four patients who did not have PET scanning died from 4 to 48 months after operation with disseminated disease from lung, colon, and renal carcinoma respectively. The remaining patient who did not have PET scanning is alive and well 11 years later. Two of the four patients who had PET scans showing isolated disease are alive at 28 and 43 months after operation, whereas the other two died of disseminated disease at 29 and 36 months after operation. We conclude that 1) adrenalectomy can provide survival benefit in patients with isolated metastases, and 2...


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