Ultrasonographic Measurements of Adrenal Glands in Cats with Hyperthyroidism

Combes A., Vandermeulen E., Duchateau L., et al.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound, 2012. 53(2): p.210-216.


Feline hyperthyroidism is potentially associated with exaggerated responsiveness of the adrenal gland cortex. The adrenal glands of 23 hyperthyroid cats were examined ultrasonographically and compared to the adrenal glands of 30 control cats. Ten hyperthyroid cats had received antithyroid drugs until 2 weeks before sonography, the other 13 were untreated. There was no difference in adrenal gland shape between healthy and hyperthyroid cats: bean-shaped, well-defined, hypoechoic structures surrounded by a hyperechoic halo in 43/60 (71.6%) healthy cats and 34/46 (73.9%) hyperthyroid cats; more ovoid in 13/60 (21.6%) healthy cats and 9/46 (19.6%) hyperthyroid cats while more elongated in 4/60 (6.7%) healthy cats, 3/46 (6.5%) hyperthyroid cats. Hyperechoic foci were present in 9/23 (39.1%) hyperthyroid cats and 2/30 (6.7%) healthy cats. The adrenal glands were significantly larger in hyperthyroid cats, although there was overlap in size range. The mean difference between hyperthyroid cats and healthy cats was 1.6 and 1.7 mm in left and right adrenal gland length, 0.8 and 0.9 mm in left and right cranial adrenal gland height, and 0.4 and 0.9 mm in left and right caudal adrenal gland height. There was no significant difference between the adrenal gland measurements in treated and untreated hyperthyroid cats. The adrenomegaly was most likely associated with the hypersecretion of the adrenal cortex documented in hyperthyroid cats. Hyperthyroidism should be an alternative to hyperadrenocorticism, hyperaldosteronism, and acromegaly in cats with bilateral moderate adrenomegaly.