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Adrenocortical cancer recurrence following initial transcutaneous biopsy: a rare demonstration of needle tract seeding

Nada Younes, Isabelle Bourdeau, Harold Olney, Paul Perrotte, Odile Prosmanne, Mathieu Latour, David Roberge, and André Lacroix


Needle tract seeding is a potential, albeit rare, complication following transcutaneous biopsies, leading to the seeding of tumor cells along the path of the needle. Biopsies of adrenal masses are not routinely recommended and are only indicated, after exclusion of pheochromocytoma, when an adrenal metastasis of a primary extra-adrenal cancer is suspected or when pathological confirmation of inoperable adrenocortical cancer (ACC) may impact treatment. Despite guideline recommendations to avoid primary adrenal biopsy, very few needle tract seeding cases have been reported and none were in the context of an ACC. We report the occurrence of needle tract seeding in a patient following adrenal transcutaneous biopsy leading to ACC abdominal wall recurrence.

Learning points

  • Needle tract seeding is a rare complication of transcutaneous biopsy. It may increase morbidity and impact overall survival. It has yet to be documented in adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC).

  • Adrenal masses can be accurately evaluated for malignancy using a combination of conventional and metabolic imaging, such as CT and fluorodeoxyglucose-PET, obviating the need for biopsies.

  • Adrenal mass biopsy is not indicated in ACC unless advanced ACC is diagnosed, and a pathological confirmation would impact management.