Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 3101–3108 | Cite as

Interobserver agreement in distinguishing large adrenal adenomas and adrenocortical carcinomas on computed tomography

  • Aaron J. Thomas
  • Mouhammed A. Habra
  • Priya R. Bhosale
  • Aliya A. Qayyum
  • Kareem Ahmed
  • Rafael Vicens
  • Khaled M. ElsayesEmail author



Large adrenal masses pose a diagnostic dilemma. The purpose of this study was twofold: first, to assess the degree of interobserver agreement in evaluating the morphology of pathologically proven adrenal adenomas and adrenocortical carcinomas larger than 4 cm in diameter; and second, to identify morphologic characteristics that correlated with the pathologic diagnosis.

Materials and methods

For this blinded, retrospective study, we collected cases of 25 adrenal adenomas and 33 adrenocortical carcinomas measuring larger than 4 cm. Two radiologists evaluated morphologic characteristics of the lesions on CT. Interobserver agreement was evaluated using kappa statistics, and the correlation of imaging characteristics with the diagnosis was evaluated using a logistic regression model.


We found the highest interobserver agreement in the assessment of precontrast attenuation (Κ = 0.81) as well as substantial agreement in determining the shape and the presence of calcifications (Κ = 0.69 and 0.74, respectively). Readers agreed less often regarding the presence of fat (Κ = 0.48), as well as regarding the presence of necrosis, heterogeneity, and the overall impression (Κ = 0.15, 0.24, and 0.26, respectively). CT characteristics correlated with benignity included round shape (p = 0.02), an overall radiologic impression of a benign lesion (p < 0.0001), the presence of fat (p = 0.01), and a precontrast attenuation of less than 10 Hounsfield units (p < 0.0001). The latter two of these characteristics were highly specific for benign pathology (93% and 100%, respectively).


Our study suggests that CT has the ability to consistently identify characteristics significantly correlated with benign vs. malignant adrenal tumors.


Adrenal cortex neoplasms Adrenal glands Adrenocortical adenoma Adrenocortical carcinoma Adrenal gland neoplasms 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron J. Thomas
    • 1
  • Mouhammed A. Habra
    • 2
  • Priya R. Bhosale
    • 3
  • Aliya A. Qayyum
    • 3
  • Kareem Ahmed
    • 4
  • Rafael Vicens
    • 5
  • Khaled M. Elsayes
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal DisordersThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Diagnostic RadiologyThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyThomas Jefferson University HospitalPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of RadiologyHospital Auxilio MutuoSan JuanUSA

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