Nowadays most patients diagnosed with surgically curable primary aldosteronism have small or micro aldosteroneproducing adenoma or unilateral micronodular hyperplasia, which are undetectable with available imaging technologies. Therefore, a negative imaging test by no means excludes unilateral primary aldosteronism. Moreover, about 10% of the subjects above the age of 35 years have nonfunctioning adrenal tumors, regardless of being hypertensive or not, with a prevalence that raises with aging. Hence, the finding of an adrenal mass at imaging does not reliably detect the culprit of primary aldosteronism. On the other hand, when primary aldosteronism patients are selected for adrenalectomy on the basis of demonstration of lateralized aldosterone excess at adrenal vein sampling (AVS), close to 100% are biochemically cured from the hyperaldosteronism, about 45% are cured of arterial hypertension and an additional 52% are markedly improved in terms of blood pressure control. By contrast, patients referred for surgery based on imaging alone often fail to reach these successful outcomes, indicating that surgery was unnecessary or, even worse, performed on the wrong side. For these reasons, and because of the lack of accurate and widely available alternative methods, all current guidelines recommend that AVS be offered to all primary aldosteronism patients with only few exceptions, mainly in patients unable or unwilling to undergo surgery and those with germ-line mutations causing familial primary aldosteronism. The main argument against systematic use of AVS entails its suboptimal performance, partly justified by its intrinsic technical difficulty, and its limited availability. This led to propose skipping AVS strategies for predicting surgically curable primary aldosteronism, but success has been inconsistent. The most urgent standing issue is, therefore, not to find loopholes to avoid AVS, but rather to improve its use, which means improving the rate of AVS success, through formal training of interventionists, selection of appropriate cutoffs and exploitation of a standardized procedure.
- Adrenal vein sampling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine