Specialist expertise: Thyroid Surgery, Parathyroid Surgery, Adrenal Surgery, Endocrinology.
It is common to find nodules on the adrenals when one has a CT or MRI scan of the abdomen. Mostly these nodules are incidental findings that do not require any treatment but it is important that these are properly assessed to ensure that they have no features of concern (fortunately adrenal cancer is a very rare cancer) and to make sure that they are not overproducing any of the adrenal hormones. This is most relevant if you also have high blood pressure.
Overactivity is usually associated with a nodule as above and includes the conditions:
- Cushing’s Syndrome
- Conn’s syndrome (or primary hyperaldosteronism)
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia – This is an important but uncommon condition which, if serious, usually presents in childhood. It can also present later in life with problems such as excess hair growth.
The most common reason for finding a low cortisol in the blood is when someone has been taking prescribed steroids (e.g. for asthma). An uncommon cause is Addison’s disease – a condition where one loses adrenal function due to destruction of the adrenal glands. It is important to correctly assess adrenal function and essential to correctly replace the missing hormones if they are absent.