Primary aldosteronism (PA) occurs in 10%-20% of patients with resistant hypertension. Guidelines recommend adrenal vein sampling (AVS) to identify patients for surgical management. We evaluate the use of AVS in managing PA to better understand the selection and outcomes of medical versus surgical treatment.
A retrospective review was performed, and patients were divided into those who did (AVS) and did not have AVS (non-AVS). Demographics, aldosterone and renin levels, blood pressure, comorbidities, and antihypertensive medications were recorded. Reasons to defer AVS and medical versus surgical decision-making were examined and groups were compared.
We included 113 patients; 39.8% (45/113) had AVS, whereas 60.2% (68/113) did not. Groups were similar in age, body mass index, and initial systolic blood pressure (SBP). In patients who underwent AVS, 31 of 45 (68.9%) had unilateral secretion and were referred for surgery, whereas 13 of 45 (28.9%) had bilateral secretion. Of the 31 referred for surgery, 26 underwent laparoscopic adrenalectomy, all cured; four refused surgery; and one counseled toward medical management by their physician. In 68 non-AVS patients, 6 (8.8%) underwent adrenalectomy without sampling and 2 with no clinical improvement. The remaining deferrals were because of normal or bilateral adrenal nodules on imaging (8/68, 11.8%); medical management due to poor surgical candidacy (12/68, 17.6%); patient refusal of intervention (13/68, 19.1%); or reasons not stated (28/68, 41.1%). At the follow-up, patients who underwent AVS had lower median SBP (135.4 mmHg versus 144.7 mmHg, P = 0.0241) and shorter follow-up (17.7 mo versus 54.0 mo, P < 0.0001). Surgically managed patients had biochemical resolution of PA with normalization of potassium levels (3.6 to 4.7mEq/L, P < 0.00001).
AVS correctly selects patients for surgical management avoiding unnecessary surgery. However, despite guidelines, AVS is not always pursued as part of PA treatment, potentially excluding surgical candidates.
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