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Characteristic CT features of pheochromocytomas - probability model calculation tool based on a multicentric study

Publication at Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, First Faculty of Medicine, Third Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové |


OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to evaluate the CT features of adrenal tumors in an effort to identify features specific to pheochromocytomas and second, to define a feasible probability calculation model. METHODS: This multicentric retrospective study included patients from the period 2003 to 2017 with an appropriate CT examination and a histological diagnosis of an adrenal adenoma, pheochromocytoma, adrenocortical carcinoma, or metastasis.

In total, 346 patients were suitable for the CT image analysis, which included evaluation of the largest diameter, the shape of the lesion, the presence of central necrosis and its margins, and the presence of an enhancing peripheral rim ("ring sign"). RESULTS: Pheochromocytomas have a significantly more spherical shape (P<0.001), whereas an elliptical shape significantly reduces the probability of a pheochromocytoma (odds ratio = 0.015), as does another shape (odds ratio = 0.006).

A "ring sign" is also more frequent in pheochromocytomas compared to other adrenal tumors (P=0.001, odds ratio = 6.49). A sharp necrosis also increases the probability of a pheochromocytoma more than unsharp necrosis (odds ratio 231.6 vs. 20.2).

The probability calculation model created on the basis of the results confirms a high sensitivity and specificity (80% and 95%). CONCLUSION: This study confirms the value of anatomical features in the assessment of adrenal masses with the ability to significantly improve the identification of pheochromocytomas.

Advanced assessment of the tumor shape was defined and a original comprehensive calculating tool of the pheochromocytoma probability was created on the basis of the results presented here and could be used in clinical routine.