Imaging of nontraumatic hemorrhage of the adrenal gland

Akira Kawashima, Carl M. Sandler, Randy D. Ernst, Naoki Takahashi, Marilyn A. Roubidoux, Stanford M. Goldman, Elliot K. Fishman, N. Reed Dunnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations


Nontraumatic hemorrhage of the adrenal gland is uncommon. The causes of such hemorrhage can be classified into five categories: (a) stress, (b) hemorrhagic diathesis or coagulopathy, (c) neonatal stress, (d) underlying adrenal tumors, and (e) idiopathic disease. Computed tomography (CT), ultrasonography (US), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging play an important role in diagnosis and management. CT is the modality of choice for evaluation of adrenal hemorrhage in a patient with a history of stress or a hemorrhagic diathesis or coagulopathy (anticoagulant therapy). CT may yield the first clue to the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency secondary to bilateral massive adrenal hemorrhage; such insufficiency is rare but life threatening. US is the modality of choice for evaluation of neonatal hematoma, and MR imaging is helpful for further characterization. MR imaging is also useful in the diagnosis of coexistent renal vein thrombosis. When an adrenal abscess is suspected, percutaneous aspiration and drainage under imaging guidance should be performed. Hemorrhage into an adrenal cyst or tumor can cause acute onset of symptoms and signs in a patient without discernible risk factors for adrenal hemorrhage. A hemorrhagic adrenal tumor should be suspected when CT or MR imaging reveals a hemorrhagic adrenal mass of heterogeneous attenuation or signal intensity that demonstrates enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-963
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Adrenal gland, CT, 86.1211
  • Adrenal gland, MR, 86.1214
  • Adrenal gland, US, 86.1298
  • Adrenal gland, abnormalities, 86.18
  • Adrenal gland, abscess, 86.211
  • Adrenal gland, hemorrhage, 86.546
  • Adrenal gland, insufficiency, 86.549
  • Adrenal gland, neoplasms, 86.30

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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