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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 91-92

Adrenal myelolipoma masquerading as retroperitoneal sarcoma

1 Department of Pathology, Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
2 Department of Surgical Oncology, Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
3 Department of Imageology, Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Date of Web Publication9-Jan-2015

Correspondence Address:
Jayasudha A Vasudevan
Department of Pathology, Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram - 695 011, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-0513.149060

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Adrenal myelolipomas are rare, benign, hormonally inactive tumors. Most patients are asymptomatic. We report a case of 47-year-old female who was evaluated for joint pain and pedal edema, detected to have a retroperitoneal mass in the right sub-hepatic region, clinically simulating a retroperitoneal sarcoma, and diagnosed as adrenal myelolipoma by histopathology.

Keywords: Adrenal, myelolipoma, retroperitoneal sarcoma

How to cite this article:
Vasudevan JA, Somanathan T, Chandramohan K, Koshy SM. Adrenal myelolipoma masquerading as retroperitoneal sarcoma. Clin Cancer Investig J 2015;4:91-2

How to cite this URL:
Vasudevan JA, Somanathan T, Chandramohan K, Koshy SM. Adrenal myelolipoma masquerading as retroperitoneal sarcoma. Clin Cancer Investig J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Apr 2];4:91-2. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Adrenal myelolipoma is a rare benign tumor first described by Gierke in 1905. The name adrenal myelolipoma was given by Oberling in 1929. Myelolipoma is composed of mature adipose tissue and hemopoietic tissue. It is mostly discovered incidentally on imaging of the abdomen done for nonadrenal-related reasons or at autopsy. [1] Most adrenal myelolipomas are small and asymptomatic, but spontaneous rupture of larger tumors have also been reported. [2] We report a case of 47-year-old female with retroperitoneal mass in the right sub-hepatic region and diagnosed as adrenal myelolipoma by histopathology.

  Case report Top

A 47-year-old female presented with joint pains in lower limb of 6 months duration. General examination was normal except for pedal edema. Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen showed 16 cm × 15 cm predominant fat density lesion with septation in the right sub-hepatic region causing mass effects on retroperitoneal structures [Figure 1]a. CT scan findings were suggestive of retroperitoneal liposarcoma, adrenal myelolipoma, or angiomyolipoma.
Figure 1: (a) Postcontrast axial computed tomography section of the abdomen at the suprarenal level. A relatively well-defined, predominantly fatty attenuation lesion at the right suprarenal level, showing few enhancing septae and peripheral solid areas within; the right adrenal gland is not visualized separately. (b) Gross examination showed a well-encapsulated nodular mass with yellowish and brownish areas. (c) Residual adrenal tissue at the periphery of the tumor (H and E, ×200). (d) Adipose tissue component admixed with hemopoietic elements (H and E, ×400)

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Exploratory laparotomy was done with excision of retroperitoneal tumor and excision of the capsule over the inferior surface of the liver. Intraoperative findings showed large well-encapsulated tumor of size 16 cm × 12 cm in the suprarenal region. Kidney was free of tumor. Gross examination showed a well-encapsulated yellowish nodular mass measuring 18 cm × 15 cm × 9 cm and weighed 1.2 kg. Cut surface showed yellowish and circumscribed brownish areas [Figure 1]b. Microscopy revealed adrenal tissue at the periphery, beneath which was seen a mass composed of varying proportions of mature adipose tissue admixed with areas of hemopoietic tissue containing erythroid, myeloid, megakaryocytic, and lymphoid elements [Figure 1]c and d. No evidence of other associated elements like the pheochromocytoma, adrenocortical hyperplasia, or adenoma was present on microscopic examination. Thus, diagnosis of adrenal myelolipoma was made.

  Discussion Top

Adrenal myelolipomas account for 2.5% of primary adrenal tumors. [3] They are usually noted in mid to late adult life, and there is no sex predilection reported in most series. They are usually unilateral, and measure <5 mm in diameter. [1] There are few case reports of giant adrenal myelolipoma. The largest reported tumor weighed 6 kg.

Pathogenesis of adrenal myelolipomas is controversial. Differential proliferation of embryonic mesenchymal rests in adrenal glands into myeloid and adipose tissue, hematogenous seedling of bone marrow emboli, and metaplasia of mesenchymal cells as a result of chronic stress are the proposed theories. [4] Large tumors may cause spontaneous hemorrhage or hemoperitoneum due to traumatic rupture of the adrenal gland. The characteristic CT and magnetic resonance findings of myelolipoma include demonstration of areas of the obvious fat within a well-defined adrenal mass. [5] The differential diagnosis following the CT analysis in our case included retroperitoneal liposarcoma, angiomyolipoma, and adrenal myelolipoma. Myelolipomas have indications for surgical removal when it is symptomatic and for larger, asymptomatic tumors more than 4 cm due to the risks of spontaneous haemorrhage. [6] Periodic radiographic imaging is to be done for small nonfunctional tumors. Functioning adrenal myelolipoma can be clinically mistaken for endocrine causes like pheochromocytoma. [7] A novel association of adrenal myelolipoma and keratoconus has been described. [8] There are case reports of occurrence of adrenal myelolipoma with adrenal cortical carcinomas and adrenocortical adenomas in the same adrenal gland. [9],[10] To conclude, adrenal myelolipoma being a rare entity, awareness about this entity is very much needed to avoid radical surgical procedures.

  References Top

Chakraborty J, Paul PCh, Gumta MK, Ghosh G, Goswami B. Adrenal myelolipoma - Report of a case. J Indian Med Assoc 2006;104:148-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Nakajo M, Onohara S, Shinmura K, Fujiyoshi F, Nakajo M. Embolization for spontaneous retroperitoneal hemorrhage from adrenal myelolipoma. Radiat Med 2003;21:214-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Lam KY, Lo CY. Adrenal lipomatous tumours: A 30 year clinicopathological experience at a single institution. J Clin Pathol 2001;54:707-12.  Back to cited text no. 3
Han M, Burnett AL, Fishman EK, Marshall FF. The natural history and treatment of adrenal myelolipoma. J Urol 1997;157:1213-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kawashima A, Sandler CM, Fishman EK, Charnsangavej C, Yasumori K, Hondi H, et al. Spectrum of CT findings in non malignant diseases of the adrenal gland. Radiographics 1998;18:393-412.  Back to cited text no. 5
Ares VY. Adrenal myelolipoma. Case report and bibliographic review. Arch Esp Urol 2006;59:71-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
Jakka N, Venkateshwarlu J, Satyavani N, Neelaveni K, Ramesh J. Functioning adrenal myelolipoma: A rare cause of hypertension. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2013;17:S249-51.  Back to cited text no. 7
Dutta D, Shivaprasad K, Ghosh S, Mukhopadhyay S, Chowdhury S. Adrenal myelolipoma with keratoconus: A novel clinical association. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2012;16:S364-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sun X, Ayala A, Castro CY. Adrenocortical carcinoma with concomitant myelolipoma in a patient with hyperaldosteronism. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2005;129:144-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
Hisamatsu H, Sakai H, Tsuda S, Shigematsu K, Kanetake H. Combined adrenal adenoma and myelolipoma in a patient with Cushing′s syndrome: Case report and review of the literature. Int J Urol 2004;11:416-8.  Back to cited text no. 10


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