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Irina Bancos, Shrikant Tamhane, Muhammad Shah, Danae A Delivanis, Fares Alahdab, Wiebke Arlt, Martin Fassnacht, and M Hassan Murad


To perform a systematic review of published literature on adrenal biopsy and to assess its performance in diagnosing adrenal malignancy.


Medline In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trial were searched from inception to February 2016. Reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality in duplicate.


We included 32 observational studies reporting on 2174 patients (39.4% women, mean age 59.8 years) undergoing 2190 adrenal mass biopsy procedures. Pathology was described in 1621/2190 adrenal lesions (689 metastases, 68 adrenocortical carcinomas, 64 other malignancies, 464 adenomas, 226 other benign, 36 pheochromocytomas, and 74 others). The pooled non-diagnostic rate (30 studies, 2013 adrenal biopsies) was 8.7% (95%CI: 6–11%). The pooled complication rate (25 studies, 1339 biopsies) was 2.5% (95%CI: 1.5–3.4%). Studies were at a moderate risk for bias. Most limitations related to patient selection, assessment of outcome, and adequacy of follow-up. Only eight studies (240 patients) could be included in the diagnostic performance analysis with a sensitivity and specificity of 87 and 100% for malignancy, 70 and 98% for adrenocortical carcinoma, and 87 and 96% for metastasis respectively.


Evidence based on small sample size and moderate risk of bias suggests that adrenal biopsy appears to be most useful in the diagnosis of adrenal metastasis in patients with a history of extra-adrenal malignancy. Adrenal biopsy should only be performed if the expected findings are likely to alter the management of the individual patient and after biochemical exclusion of catecholamine-producing tumors to help prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

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Ahmad Hazem, Mohamed B Elamin, German Malaga, Irina Bancos, Yolanda Prevost, Claudia Zeballos-Palacios, Edgar R Velasquez, Patricia J Erwin, Neena Natt, Victor M Montori, and Mohammad Hassan Murad


The diagnostic accuracy of tests used to diagnose GH deficiency (GHD) in adults is unclear.


We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that provided data on the available diagnostic tests.

Data sources

We searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, Web of Sciences, and Scopus) through April 2011.

Study selection

Review of reference lists and contact with experts identified additional candidate studies. Reviewers, working independently and in duplicate, determined study eligibility.

Data extraction

Reviewers, working independently and in duplicate, determined the methodological quality of studies and collected descriptive, quality, and outcome data.

Data synthesis

Twenty-three studies provided diagnostic accuracy data; none provided patient outcome data. Studies had fair methodological quality, used several reference standards, and included over 1100 patients. Several tests based on direct or indirect stimulation of GH release were associated with good diagnostic accuracy, although most were assessed in one or two studies decreasing the strength of inference due to small sample size. Serum levels of GH or IGF1 had low diagnostic accuracy. Pooled sensitivity and specificity of the two most commonly used stimulation tests were found to be 95 and 89% for the insulin tolerance test and 73 and 81% for the GHRH+arginine test respectively. Meta-analytic estimates for accuracy were associated with substantial heterogeneity.


Several tests with reasonable diagnostic accuracy are available for the diagnosis of GHD in adults. The supporting evidence, however, is at high risk of bias (due to heterogeneity, methodological limitations, and imprecision).

Free access

Irina Bancos, Fares Alahdab, Rachel K Crowley, Vasileios Chortis, Danae A Delivanis, Dana Erickson, Neena Natt, Massimo Terzolo, Wiebke Arlt, William F Young Jr, and M Hassan Murad


Beneficial effects of adrenalectomy on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with subclinical Cushing’s syndrome (SCS) are uncertain. We sought to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis with the following objectives: (i) determine the effect of adrenalectomy compared with conservative management on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with SCS and (ii) compare the effect of adrenalectomy on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with SCS vs those with a nonfunctioning (NF) adrenal tumor.


MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trial were searched on 17 November 2015. Reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality in duplicate.


We included 26 studies reporting on 584 patients with SCS and 457 patients with NF adrenal tumors. Studies used different definitions of SCS. Patients with SCS undergoing adrenalectomy demonstrated an overall improvement in cardiovascular risk factors (61% for hypertension, 52% for diabetes mellitus, 45% for obesity and 24% for dyslipidemia). When compared with conservative management, patients with SCS undergoing adrenalectomy experienced improvement in hypertension (RR 11, 95% CI: 4.3–27.8) and diabetes mellitus (RR 3.9, 95% CI: 1.5–9.9), but not dyslipidemia (RR 2.6, 95% CI: 0.97–7.2) or obesity (RR 3.4, 95% CI: 0.95–12). Patients with NF adrenal tumors experienced improvement in hypertension (21/54 patients); however, insufficient data exist for comparison to patients with SCS.


Available low-to-moderate-quality evidence from heterogeneous studies suggests a beneficial effect of adrenalectomy on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with SCS overall and compared with conservative management.