World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 75–82 | Cite as

Spontaneous Adrenal Hemorrhage with Associated Masses: Etiology and Management in 6 Cases and a Review of 133 Reported Cases

  • Jennifer L. Marti
  • John Millet
  • Julie Ann Sosa
  • Sanziana A. Roman
  • Tobias Carling
  • Robert Udelsman



Spontaneous adrenal hemorrhage associated with a mass is uncommon and treatment strategies are not standardized. Current treatment modalities range from supportive management and blood transfusion to embolization or immediate operative extirpation. Our objectives were to describe six cases from a single institution and to perform a literature review of the etiology of the condition and recommended management of patients with hemorrhagic adrenal masses.


Records from six patients diagnosed with adrenal hemorrhage and an associated mass at a single institution were reviewed. Clinical records and outcomes were analyzed. A comprehensive review of 133 reported cases in the literature was performed.


Six patients presented with spontaneous adrenal hemorrhage that appeared to be associated with a mass, with tumor sizes ranging from 3.7 to 15 cm. Three patients underwent adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma or adrenocortical cancer. Three patients did not undergo adrenalectomy: one had a metastasis from lung cancer, one underwent embolization, and one had resolution of the mass on interval imaging. A comprehensive review of the literature identified 133 cases, with pheochromocytoma the most commonly reported lesion (48%).


Spontaneous adrenal hemorrhage is rare. When it does occur, a high level of suspicion for malignant disease or pheochromocytoma should be maintained. The possibility of a hematoma masquerading as a neoplasm should also be considered. In cases of ongoing hemorrhage, embolization may be a lifesaving temporizing measure. Acute surgical intervention should be considered in selected patients, and surgery may not be required in all patients. A cautious approach with a comprehensive biochemical and imaging work-up is advised prior to operation.


DHEA Adrenal Mass Adrenocortical Carcinoma Compute Tomogram Endovascular Embolization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer L. Marti
    • 1
  • John Millet
    • 1
  • Julie Ann Sosa
    • 1
  • Sanziana A. Roman
    • 1
  • Tobias Carling
    • 1
  • Robert Udelsman
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Endocrine Surgery, Department of SurgeryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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