Pigmented nodules (black adenomas) of the adrenal. An autopsy study of incidence, morphology, and function

Morton J. Robinson, Victoriano Pardo, Arkadi M. Rywlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Both adrenal glands from 100 consecutive autopsies were sectioned at 3 mm. intervals and examined grossly and microscopically for pigmented nodules. These were present in 37 patients. Pigmented nodules are brown to black lesions, discernible with the naked eye, which typically arise at the corticomedullary junction and grow into the cortex. Occasionally they extend through the medulla. They are not encapsulated and are usually sharply circumscribed grossly; histologically, they often display drifting of pigmented cells into adjacent tissue. The histochemical characteristics and electron microscopic appearance of the pigment are typical of lipofuscin. The clinical records of the 37 patients with pigmented nodules did not reveal any higher incidence of hypertension or electrolyte or endocrine disturbance than those of a control group consisting of the remaining 63 patients of this series. We also studied the clinical records of 104 patients with pigmented nodules found in random adrenal sections in 1000 consecutive autopsies. The adrenal pigmented nodule is apparently nonfunctioning. No association of this lesion with a clinical picture of endocrine disturbance, electrolyte imbalance, or hypertension could be established.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalHuman pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1972

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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