The two adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, work hard to secrete and regulate vital hormones in your body. But when excessive or inhibited hormone production by these tiny organs occurs, a multitude of health issues may arise.
Benign tumors in the adrenal glands, called adrenal adenomas, have the potential to cause disruptions in the endocrine system (which regulates all biological processes in your body). Functional (activated) adrenal adenomas are usually benign, although some are capable of becoming cancerous.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, among other imaging modalities, are helpful in monitoring and diagnosing adrenal masses such as adenomas before they become malignant.
An MRI of the adrenal glands involves using magnetic resonance imaging to scan the patient’s abdomen and examine adrenal masses.
The scan takes about an hour. It utilizes magnetic fields and gradient-echo sequences to generate images of body structures and provide characterization of adrenal masses.
Adrenal glands and adrenal lesions are well-visualized in abdominal MRI scans. A radiologist may inject a contrast enhancement dye into the patient to enhance the imaging results.
MRI is used to both diagnose and differentiate between malignant and benign adrenal lesions, also known as adrenal adenomas. Differentiation between adrenal lesions is crucial to oncology patients, as it directly affects prognosis and treatment. An adrenal glands protocol is a set of MRI sequences that assess indeterminate lesions in the adrenal glands.
The fat surrounding the adrenal glands supports adrenal imaging by providing contrast enhancement to adrenal masses. Cross-sectional imaging, such as an axial or coronal magnetic resonance imaging scan, helps medical professionals visualize and diagnose adrenal issues.
Adrenal gland MRI for inspecting adrenal adenomas is safe and highly effective. Compared to enhanced computed tomography (CT) scans, it is often considered the first choice in imaging for young patients and breastfeeding mothers.
An adrenal MRI becomes important when the results of a CT scan of the adrenal adenomas are inconclusive. Imaging findings from an MRI may be more accurate than CT scans and CT images in identifying certain cancers. This enhanced accuracy results from MR imaging’s ability to provide greater soft tissue contrast.
MRI can evaluate adrenal lesions in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.
Adrenal lesions, or pathological changes in the organ such as a tumor or neoplasm, may be seen as adrenal adenomas or adrenal masses on an MR image. These lesions may represent benign conditions (such as adrenal adenoma, pheochromocytoma, cyst, cystic lymphangioma, or myelolipoma) or malignant conditions(such as adrenal metastases, adrenal cortical carcinoma).
Adrenal MR imaging involves chemical shift MR imaging (CSI), which helps the radiologist detect intra-tumor fat, differentiating between lipid-poor adenomas and lipid-rich adenomas.
As gradient-echo sequencing results in more precise imaging features, high-signal intensity and low signal intensity imaging findings advance proper characterization of adrenal masses.
You have two adrenal glands — one located at the top of each kidney. They are small, yellowish, triangular-shaped soft tissue organs. As part of your body’s endocrine system, they produce catecholamines such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine. These hormones aid in metabolism regulation, proper immune function, and blood pressure regulation.
The adrenal gland is divided into two parts. The adrenal medulla is at the center of the gland, while the adrenal cortex forms the outer part.
Adrenal gland disorders happen when either the left adrenal gland or right adrenal gland ceases to function as it should. These disorders are classified as either too much or too little hormone production.
Adrenal disorders arise from disease, genetic mutation, tumor, or infection. They can also be linked to abnormalities in other glands, such as the pituitary gland.
While genetic adrenal disorders are rare, adrenal adenomas, or benign tumors largely asymptomatic and nonfunctioning, are often incidentally found during imaging studies of patients. Adrenal adenomas found in imaging results are referred to as adrenal incidentalomas.
Both the left and right adrenal glands may develop benign or malignant lesions, such as adrenal adenomas and adrenal metastases.
An adrenal metastasis is a cancer that has spread from another primary site to one or both adrenal glands.
The most common cause of a cancerous adrenal tumor is the transfer of cells from infected organs outside the adrenals, such as lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), or pancreas carcinoma.
Most benign adenomas are generally smaller, well-defined, and uniform (homogenous) in appearance compared to cancerous adrenal adenomas (found in patchy [heterogeneous] cystic and necrotic areas).
Common or well-known diseases of the adrenals include
Besides an MRI scan, other diagnostic and imaging tests may aid the characterization of adrenal masses.
Each radiographic modality can be helpful in the examination of non-adenoma adrenal masses, attenuation of adrenal adenomas, and inspection of adrenal nodules that may hint at various conditions.
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent cancer. The good news is that screening tests can find some cancers early.
The difference between cancer diagnosis and cancer prevention is the difference between finding out whether something has happened and trying to prevent that something from happening.
Making healthy lifestyle choices and conducting regular checkups of the whole body leads to long-lasting health.
Cancer diagnosis happens in the secondary and tertiary levels of cancer prevention, where a medical professional verifies that a patient has malignant lesions in a specific organ.
A patient would be moved to diagnostic care only when a preventive care procedure demonstrates abnormal results.
Investing in primary and secondary cancer prevention steps — crafting a healthy lifestyle for yourself and regularly screening for cell carcinoma — may drastically lower the possibility of undergoing tertiary prevention or surgery.
Preventive care enables you to stay healthy long term and could even save your life.
Your adrenal glands are small yet vital organs.
Ezra’s full-body MRI screens your adrenal glands and 13 other organs in less than an hour. If you’re interested in a screening, consider booking an ezra full-body MRI.
Repeat screenings help health professionals monitor a patient’s body across time, allowing them to follow up on a patient’s well-being, and detect abnormalities in the adrenal glands and surrounding organs early. These proactive measures may lead to lifesaving consequences.
Gift a scan to a family member or friend.