Date: 25 Nov 2006

Contemporary adrenal scintigraphy

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High-resolution computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging have replaced scintigraphy as primary imaging modalities for the evaluation of adrenal diseases.


Thin-slice CT, CT contrast washout studies and MR pulse sequences specifically designed to identify adrenal lipid content have radically changed the approach to anatomic imaging and provide unique insight into the physical characteristics of the adrenals. With a confirmed biochemical diagnosis, further evaluation is often unnecessary, especially in diagnostic localization of diseases of the adrenal cortex. However, despite the exquisite detail afforded by anatomy-based imaging, there are not infrequently clinical situations in which the functional insight provided by scintigraphy is crucial to identify adrenal dysfunction and to assist in localization of adrenocortical and adrenomedullary disease. The introduction of hybrid PET/CT and SPECT/CT, modalities that directly integrate anatomic and functional information, redefine the radiotracer principle in the larger context of high-resolution anatomic imaging. Instead of becoming obsolete, scintigraphy is an element of a device that combines it with CT or MR to allow a direct correlation between function and anatomy, whereby the combination creates a more powerful diagnostic tool than the separate component modalities.