Incidentaloma

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 07 Jul 2022

An incidentaloma is a radiological neologism to denote a lesion found incidentally and of dubious clinical significance. Although it can refer to any incidental lesion (e.g. pituitary 3, thyroid 4), it is most often used to denote an incidental adrenal lesion, which is commonly an adrenal adenoma 1. Colloquially, some radiologists use the term interchangeably with adrenal adenoma, although clearly its use in a report would be confusing, and should be avoided. Most incidentalomas are asymptomatic.

If an incidental adrenal nodule is found, the Management of incidental adrenal masses: American College of Radiology white paper may be useful.

The likelihood of an incidental adrenal lesion being malignant is most strongly determined by the presence or absence of malignancy elsewhere. In cases where malignancy is present, up to 27% of incidental adrenal lesions represent adrenal metastases 6

History and etymology

The word 'incidentaloma' first appears in the literature in 1982 in a paper by Glenn W Geelhoed (fl. 2019), a surgeon, and Edward M Druy (fl. 2019), a radiologist 8.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: adrenal adenoma
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  • Case 2: Incidental prostate cancer on hip MRI
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