• Adrenal gland;
  • Asymmetry;
  • Dog;
  • Hyperadrenocorticism;
  • Ultrasonography

Background: Adrenal ultrasonography (US) in dogs with hyperadrenocorticism (HAC) is commonly used to distinguish adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-independent (AIHAC) and ACTH-dependent hyperadrenocorticism (ADHAC). To date, no cut-off values for defining adrenal atrophy in cases of adrenal asymmetry have been determined. Given that asymmetrical hyperplasia is sometimes observed in ADHAC, adrenal asymmetry without ultrasonographic proof of adrenocortical tumor such as vascular invasion or metastasis can be equivocal.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare adrenal US findings between cases of ADHAC and AIHAC in dogs with equivocal adrenal asymmetry (EAA), and to identify useful criteria for their distinction.

Animals: Forty dogs with EAA were included.

Methods: Ultrasound reports of HAC dogs with adrenal asymmetry without obvious vascular invasion or metastases were reviewed. Dogs were classified as cases of ADHAC (n = 28) or AIHAC (n = 19), determined by plasma ACTH concentration. The thickness, shape, and echogenicity of both adrenal glands and presence of adjacent vascular compression were compared between AIHAC and ADHAC groups.

Results: The maximal dorsoventral thickness of the smaller gland (SDV) ranged from 2.0 to 5.0 mm in AIHAC and from 5.0 to 15.0 mm in ADHAC. The 95% confidence intervals for estimated sensitivity and specificity of a SDV cut-off set at 5.0 mm in the diagnosis of AIHAC were 82–100 and 82–99%, respectively. Other tested US criteria were found to overlap extensively between the 2 groups, precluding their usefulness for distinction.

Conclusion and Clinical Importance: In EAA cases, an SDV ≤5.0 mm is an appropriate cut-off for AIHAC ultrasonographic diagnosis.