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  • Unique/unexpected symptoms or presentations of a disease x
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Sarah N Parry Department of Endocrinology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

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Namson S Lau Metabolism & Obesity Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Liverpool Diabetes Collaboration, Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research, Sydney, Australia
South West Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

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Summary

Approximately 80% of adrenal incidentalomas are benign, and development into adrenal cortical cancer is extremely rare. This is a major reason behind clinical guidelines recommending surveillance of incidentalomas for a relatively short duration of up to 5 years. Surveillance of lesions less than 1 cm is not routinely recommended. A 70-year-old lady was diagnosed with a non-hyperfunctioning 8 mm right adrenal lesion. She underwent annual biochemical and radiological assessment for 5 years before surveillance was extended to 2-yearly intervals. The lesion was stable in size, and radiological characteristics were consistent with a benign adenoma. Seven years after the initial detection of the adrenal lesion, she developed acute abdominal pain. Imaging revealed a 7 cm right adrenal lesion, which was surgically resected and histologically confirmed to be adrenal cortical cancer. She died 1 year later. Clinical guidelines have moved towards a shortened duration of surveillance of incidentalomas. Even though malignant transformation is a rare event, it is possible that this will result in a delayed diagnosis of adrenal cortical cancer, a highly aggressive malignancy with a poor prognosis. To our knowledge, this is the first published case of an adrenal lesion of less than 1 cm developing into adrenal cortical cancer.

Learning points

  • Adrenal incidentalomas are increasingly common.

  • Clinical practice guidelines exist to aid in differentiating benign and malignant lesions and assessing functional status.

  • Transformation of adrenal incidentalomas to adrenal cortical carcinomas is a rare but recognised event.

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Chi-Ta Hsieh Department of Internal Medicine, Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

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Jui-Ting Yu Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

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Tang-Yi Tsao Department of Internal Medicine, Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
Department of Post-Baccalaureate Medicine, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan

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Yao Hsien Tseng Department of Internal Medicine, Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Tungs' Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
Department of Post-Baccalaureate Medicine, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan

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Summary

A 69-year-old woman presented with weight loss, fever, dizziness, exertional dyspnea, and drenching night sweats. Imaging showed a thyroid goiter at the left lobe that measured 5.6 × 3.4 × 3.5 cm in size. On computed tomography, she was found to have large adrenal masses. Core needle biopsy of the left thyroid mass revealed the presence of a mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue extranodal marginal zone B cell lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (NHL) typically develop in lymph nodes or other lymphatic tissues. There have been cases where the thyroid has been affected, and the secondary involvement of the adrenal gland is common. In reported cases, 7–59% of patients with NHL exhibited symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. Our patient presented no symptoms of thyroid dysfunction or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The patient had bilateral adrenal lymphomas that led to adrenal insufficiency. Immunochemotherapy provided a good response in this case, as seen by the rapid improvement in thyroid and adrenal mass on follow-up PET/CT.

Learning points

  • Thyroid lymphoma requires a high index of suspicion for diagnosis in patients with a rapidly growing thyroid tumor, even in the absence of chronic inflammatory thyroid disease.

  • Depending on the extent of involvement, adrenal lymphoma may rapidly cause adrenal insufficiency.

  • In the setting of acute illness, appropriate levels of plasma cortisol are often unclear, necessitating early initiation of glucocorticoid therapy based on clinical suspicion, especially when features like bilateral adrenal masses and elevated ACTH levels are present.

  • Treatment modalities include chemotherapy and radiation therapy for localized lesions, together with hormone replacement for organ dysfunction.

  • The origin of the tumor influences the clinical outcome of patients with lymphoma simultaneously involving the thyroid and adrenal glands.

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John J Orrego Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA

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Joseph A Chorny Department of Pathology, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA

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Summary

Unlike medullary thyroid carcinomas, follicular cell-derived thyroid malignancies have rarely been associated with paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes. An ultrarare case of a middle-aged man with heavily treated broadly metastatic radioactive iodine-refractory widely invasive Hürthle cell carcinoma (HCC) of the thyroid with two synchronous paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes, T3 thyrotoxicosis and hypercalcemia of malignancy, is discussed here. The levothyroxine-induced T3 thyrotoxicosis was a gradual process that became more noticeable as the tumor burden, refractory to different modalities of therapy, expanded. The 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D-mediated hypercalcemia, on the other hand, developed in a manner of weeks, as it usually happens. It is important to emphasize that in patients with metastatic Hürthle cell and follicular carcinomas of the thyroid, on TSH suppressive therapy, the unexplained and progressive decline in FT4 and rise in FT3 levels, resulting in an elevated FT4/FT3 ratio, could be an indication of augmented type 1 (D1) and/or type 2 (D2) deiodinase expression in tumoral tissue, causing an increased conversion from the prohormone T4 into the active metabolite T3 via outer ring deiodination.

Learning points

  • Albeit extremely rare, some patients with thyroid cancer can present with more than one concomitant paraneoplastic syndrome.

  • Although medullary thyroid carcinoma is the thyroid malignancy that is usually associated with paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes, follicular cell-derived thyroid cancers have been rarely described as being the culprit.

  • In patients with metastatic Hürthle cell and follicular thyroid carcinomas, the unexplained and progressive decline in FT4 and rise in FT3 levels could be an indication of augmented type 1 (D1) and/or type 2 (D2) deiodinase expression in tumoral tissue, causing an increased conversion from T4 into T3 leading to T3 thyrotoxicosis.

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Mohammad Alali Kuwait Board of Internal Medicine, Kuwait City, Safat, Kuwait

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Sulaiman Hajji Department of Internal Medicine, Adan Hospital, Kuwait City, Kuwait

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Khalid Aljenaee Department of Internal Medicine, Adan Hospital, Kuwait City, Kuwait

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Summary

Endometrioid carcinomas of the ovary are a subtype of epithelial ovarian tumors, with sertoliform endometrioid carcinomas being a rare variant. We report a case of a previously healthy premenopausal woman presenting with androgenic symptoms in the form of hirsutism and male pattern alopecia. On further testing, she was found to have high levels of luteinizing hormone and total testosterone levels, and imaging revealed a large pelvic abdominal mass in the right ovary. She underwent total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Microscopy and histopathology confirmed the diagnosis of sertoliform endometrioid carcinoma. Her symptoms improved significantly on follow-up. Androgenic tumors might not be common in premenopausal women; however, it is important to maintain a high level of suspicion in patients presenting with virilizing symptoms especially of rapid progression.

Learning points

  • Our 47-year-old patient presented with virilizing symptoms that were rapidly progressing, which raises the suspicion of an underlying androgen secreting neoplasm.

  • Sertoliform endometrioid carcinoma (SEC) is an extremely rare variant of endometrioid carcinomas and tend to present at an earlier stage as compared to most endometrioid carcinomas of the ovary.

  • Recognition of SEC in virilizing patients is important as it is a well-differentiated, low-grade malignancy with a good prognosis when confined to the ovary.

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Ekaterina Kim Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Ekaterina Bondarenko Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Anna Eremkina Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Petr Nikiforovich Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Natalia Mokrysheva Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Summary

A 59-year-old male presented with an accidental thyroid mass in 2022. Ultrasound and CT scan showed a nodule 5.2 × 4.9 × 2.8 cm (EU-TIRADS 4) in the right lobe of the thyroid gland. Taking into account the results of the fine needle aspiration biopsy (Bethesda V), intrathyroid localization, and absence of clinical symptoms, a malignant tumor of the thyroid gland was suspected. The patient underwent total thyroidectomy using fluorescence angiography with indocyanine green, and two pairs of intact parathyroid glands were visualized in typical localization. Unexpected histological and immunohistochemistry examinations revealed parathyroid carcinoma. Due to the asymptomatic course of the disease and atypical localization of parathyroid tumor, primary hyperparathyroidism was not suspected before the surgery. The diagnosis of asymptomatic intrathyroid parathyroid cancer is a serious diagnostic challenge for a wide range of specialists.

Learning points

  • Parathyroid cancer is a rare disease that may be asymptomatic.

  • Intrathyroidal localization of parathyroid carcinoma is casuistic and challenging for diagnosis, and the treatment strategy is not well defined.

  • Preoperative parathyroid hormone and serum calcium testing are recommended for patients with solid thyroid nodules (Bethesda IV–V).

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Chelsea Tan Bendigo Health, Victoria, Australia

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Jessica Triay Bendigo Health, Victoria, Australia

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Summary

A 64-year-old man with progressive metastatic castrate-resistant prostate adenocarcinoma presented with recurrent fluid overload, severe hypokalaemia with metabolic alkalosis and loss of glycaemic control. Clinical features were facial plethora, skin bruising and proximal myopathy. Plasma adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), serum cortisol and 24-h urinary cortisol levels were elevated. Low-dose dexamethasone failed to suppress cortisol. Pituitary MRI was normal and 68Gallium-DOTATATE PET–CT scan showed only features of metastatic prostate cancer. He was diagnosed with ectopic ACTH syndrome secondary to treatment-related neuroendocrine prostate cancer differentiation. Medical management was limited by clinical deterioration, accessibility of medications and cancer progression. Ketoconazole and cabergoline were utilised, but cortisol remained uncontrolled. He succumbed 5 months following diagnosis. Treatment-related neuroendocrine differentiation of prostate adenocarcinoma is a rare cause of ectopic ACTH syndrome.

Learning points

  • Neuroendocrine differentiation following prostate adenocarcinoma treatment with androgen deprivation has been described.

  • Ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) syndrome should be considered where patients with metastatic prostate cancer develop acute electrolyte disturbance or fluid overload.

  • Ketoconazole interferes with adrenal and gonadal steroidogenesis and can be used in ectopic ACTH syndrome, but the impact may be insufficient. Inhibition of gonadal steroidogenesis is favourable in prostate cancer.

  • More data are required to evaluate the use of cabergoline in ectopic ACTH syndrome.

  • Ectopic ACTH syndrome requires prompt management and is challenging in the face of metastatic cancer.

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Omayma Elshafie Department of Endocrinology, Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Centre, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Samir Hussein Department of Radiology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Moza Al Kalbani Department of Gynaecology, Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Centre, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Aisha Al Hamadani Department of Pathology

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Abir Bou Khalil Department of Endocrinology, Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Centre, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Nicholas Woodhouse Department of Endocrinology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Summary

A 33-year-old female presented in 2013 with left flank pain. Ultrasound and MRI pelvis showed a complex mass 9 × 7 cm arising from the left ovary suggestive of ovarian torsion. She underwent a laparoscopic cystectomy, but the patient was lost to follow-up. Three years later, she presented with abdominal distension. Ultrasound and CT scan revealed a solid left ovarian mass with ascites and multiple peritoneal metastasis. Investigations showed elevated CA 125, CA 19-9. Ovarian malignancy was suspected. She underwent total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy on November 2016. The histopathology confirmed a well-differentiated thyroid cancer of ovarian origin with features of a papillary follicular variant without evidence of ovarian cancer and the thyroglobulin (Tg) level was elevated, more than 400 consistent with the diagnosis of malignant struma ovarii. The follow-up post-surgery showed normalization of CA 125, CA 19-9 and Tg. The patient underwent total thyroidectomy on January 2017. The histology was benign excluding thyroid cancer metastases to the ovary. She was started on thyroxine suppression, following which she received two ablation doses 131iodine (131I) each 5.3 GBq. The Tg remains slightly elevated at less than 10. 131I WBS showed no residual neck uptake and no distant avid metastasis. She was planned for molecular analysis which may indicate disease severity. We describe a case of malignant struma ovarii with widespread metastatic dissemination and a good response to surgery and 131I treatment without recurrence after 5 years of follow-up. The Tg remains slightly elevated indicating minimal stable residual disease.

Learning points

  • Malignant struma ovarii is a rare disease; diagnosis is difficult and management is not well defined.

  • Presentation may mimic advanced carcinoma of the ovary.

  • Predominant sites of metastasis are adjacent pelvic structures.

  • Thyroidectomy and 131iodine therapy should be considered. The management should be similar to that of metastatic thyroid cancer.

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George Brown Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Anthony Mark Monaghan Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Richard Fristedt Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Emma Ramsey Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Ma’en Al-Mrayat Department of Endocrinology, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Rushda Rajak Department of Cellular Pathology, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Thomas Armstrong Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Arjun Takhar Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Summary

Vasoactive intestinal peptide-secreting tumours (VIPomas) are an extremely rare form of functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour with an estimated annual incidence of 1 in 10 million. Associated tumour hypersecretion of other peptides, including pancreatic polypeptide (PPomas), may also be seen. These malignancies classically present with a defined triad of refractory diarrhoea, hypokalaemia and metabolic acidosis known as Verner–Morrison syndrome. Diagnosis is frequently delayed, and the majority of patients will have metastatic disease at presentation. Symptoms are usually well controlled with somatostatin analogue administration. Here we report a case of metastatic mixed VIPoma/PPoma-induced diarrhoea causing renal failure so severe that ultrafiltration was required to recover adequate renal function.

Learning points

  • Profuse, watery diarrhoea is a common presenting complaint with a multitude of aetiologies. This, combined with the rarity of these tumours, makes diagnosis difficult and frequently delayed. A functional neuroendocrine tumour should be suspected when diarrhoea is unusually extreme, prolonged and common causes have been promptly excluded.

  • These patients are likely to be profoundly unwell on presentation. They are extremely hypovolaemic with dangerous electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities. Aggressive initial rehydration and electrolyte replacement are imperative. A somatostatin analogue should be commenced as soon as the diagnosis is suspected.

  • This is an extreme example of Verner–Morrison syndrome. We are unaware of another case where renal failure secondary to diarrhoea and dehydration was so severe that renal replacement therapy was required to restore adequate renal function, further emphasising how critically unwell these patients can be.

  • Both the primary tumour and metastases showed a remarkably good and rapid response to somatostatin analogue administration. Cystic change and involution were noted on repeat imaging within days.

  • Prior to his illness, this patient was extremely high functioning with no medical history. His diagnosis was an enormous psychological shock, and the consideration and care for his psychological well-being were a crucial part of his overall management. It highlights the importance of a holistic approach to cancer care and the role of the clinical nurse specialist within the cancer multidisciplinary team.

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Jenny S W Yun Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Chris McCormack Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Michelle Goh Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Cherie Chiang Department of Internal Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

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Summary

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. However, AN has been rarely reported in patients with insulinoma, a state of persistent hyperinsulinemia. We present a case of metastatic insulinoma, in whom AN manifested after the first cycle of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with metastatic insulinoma after 5 months of symptomatic hypoglycemia. Within 1 month post PRRT, the patient became euglycemic but developed a pigmented, pruritic rash which was confirmed on biopsy as AN. We discuss the rare manifestation of AN in subjects with insulinoma, the role of insulin in the pathogenesis of AN, malignant AN in non-insulin-secreting malignancies and association with other insulin-resistant endocrinopathies such as acromegaly.

Learning points

  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis which is typically asymptomatic and associated with the hyperinsulinemic state.

  • Malignant AN can rapidly spread, cause pruritus and affect mucosa and the oral cavity.

  • AN is extremely rare in patients with insulinoma despite marked hyperinsulinemia.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy might have triggered TGF-α secretion in this subject which led to malignant AN.

  • Rapid spread or unusual distribution of pruritic AN warrants further investigation to exclude underlying malignancy.

Open access
Filippo Crimì Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Institute of Radiology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Giulio Barbiero Institute of Radiology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Irene Tizianel Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Endocrine Disease Unit, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Laura Evangelista Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Nuclear Medicine Unit, University-Hospital of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Filippo Ceccato Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Endocrine Disease Unit, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Summary

A 61-year-old man went to the Emergency Department with left upper abdominal quadrant pain and low-grade fever, as well as a loss of weight (3 kg in 6 weeks). A solid-cystic lesion in the left adrenal lodge was discovered by abdominal ultrasonography. A slight increase in the serum amylase with normal lipase was observed, but there were no signs or symptoms of pancreatitis. A contrast-enhanced CT revealed a tumor that was suspected of adrenocortical cancer. Therefore, he was referred to the endocrine unit. The hormonal evaluation revealed no signs of excessive or inadequate adrenal secretion. To characterize the mass, an MRI was performed; the lesion showed an inhomogeneous fluid collection with peripheral wall contrast-enhancement, as well as a minor 18-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake at PET/CT images. The risk of primary adrenal cancer was minimal after the multidisciplinary discussion. An acute necrotic collection after focal pancreatitis was suspected, according to the characteristics of imaging. Both CT-guided drainage of the necrotic accumulation and laboratory analysis of the aspirated fluid confirmed the diagnosis.

Learning points

  • Different types of expansive processes can mimic adrenal incidentalomas.

  • Necrotic collection after acute focal pancreatitis could be misdiagnosed as an adrenal mass, since its CT characteristics could be equivocal.

  • MRI has stronger capacities than CT in differentiating complex lesions of the adrenal lodge.

  • A multidisciplinary approach is fundamental in the management of patients with a newly discovered adrenal incidentaloma and equivocal/suspicious imaging features (low lipid content and size >4 cm).

Open access