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Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten, Nike Stikkelbroeck, Henrik Falhammar, and Nicole Reisch

Gonadal dysfunction is an adverse outcome in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which may become apparent already during puberty. Clinical consequences of gonadal dysfunction include menstrual disturbances in females and hypogonadism and impaired fertility in males and females. In males, gonadal dysfunction can be caused by primary gonadal failure due to testicular adrenal rest tumours (TART), and by secondary gonadal failure due to poor hormonal control. In females, gonadal dysfunction can result from an overproduction of adrenal androgens including 11-oxygenated C-19 androgens and progestins, and rarely from ovarian adrenal rest tumours. In all patients with CAH, optimal hormonal control is the key for adequate gonadal function. Therefore, regular measurements of adrenal steroids and/or their metabolites should be performed. In addition, markers of the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis need to be assessed. In females, the regularity of the menstrual cycle should be evaluated. In males, regular evaluation for TART using ultrasonography is recommended from the start of puberty or even earlier when poor hormonal control is present. When TART is present, counselling on cryopreservation of semen should be offered.

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Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten, Fred C G J Sweep, Johan G Blickman, Ad R M M Hermus, and Barto J Otten

Objective: Testicular adrenal rest tumours (TART) are a well-known complication in adult male patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), with a reported prevalence of up to 94%. In adulthood, the tumours are associated with gonadal dysfunction most probably due to longstanding obstruction of the seminiferous tubules. The aim of our study was to determine the presence of TART and their influence on gonadal function in childhood.

Design: Retrospective study.

Patients and methods: Scrotal ultrasound was performed in 34 children with CAH due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency who were between 2 and 18 years old. FSH, LH, testosterone and inhibin B concentrations were measured in serum of 27 patients.

Results: TART were detected by ultrasound in 8 out of 34 (24%) children. In two of them, bilateral tumours were found. All lesions were located in the rete testis. Seven patients had the salt-wasting type of CAH; one patient had the simple virilising type of CAH. Mean tumour size was 4.1 mm (range 2–8 mm). In none of the patients were the tumours palpable. Two children with TART were between 5 and 10 years old, the other six children were above 10 years old. In all children with TART, LH, FSH, testosterone and inhibin B levels were similar to the patients without TART.

Conclusion: TART can be found in CAH children before the age of 10 years. The absence of gonadal dysfunction in our group of children suggests that gonadal dysfunction as frequently reported in adult CAH patients with TART develops after childhood.

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Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten, Kristof Duthoi, Barto J Otten, Frank C H d'Ancona, Christina A Hulsbergen-vd Kaa, and Ad R M M Hermus


In contrast to the high incidence of testicular adrenal rest tumours (TART) in adult male patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), ovarian adrenal rest tumours in female CAH patients are very rare and other locations of adrenal rest tumours have never been reported. Here, we report on an adult patient with CAH due to 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) deficiency with bilateral TART and additionally a large perirenal adrenal rest tumour.

Case report

The patient was known with CAH due to 3β-HSD deficiency and treated with hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone since the neonatal period. In puberty, there was lack of compliance with consequently high POMC concentrations. At the age of 16 years, bilateral TART were detected by scrotal ultrasound. Intensifying glucocorticoid medication did not result in decrease in POMC concentrations and shrinkage of size of the tumours. At the age of 23 years, abdominal ultrasound was performed because of abdominal complaints, showing a round inhomogeneous structure with a diameter of 4 cm near the left renal hilus. A computer tomography scan showed a multinodular lesion in the retroperitoneal region beside the left kidney. Histological investigation after removal of the tumour showed sheets of large polygonal cells with abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm, separated by dense fibrous tissue strands. The histological and immunohistochemical profile resulted in a diagnosis of an adrenal rest tumour.


In adult CAH patients, ectopic adrenal rest tumours can be present outside the testicular region. Further investigations are necessary to determine whether regularly screening for these tumours is useful.