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What causes lesions on the adrenal glands?

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Lesions on the adrenal glands, specifically non-functional adrenal lesions, may be caused by spontaneous adrenal bleeding in neonates or by a two-sided massive adrenal hemorrhage in adults, states Merck Manuals. The latter is usually attributed to vascular obstruction due to a blood clot or impairment of the blood's ability to coagulate.

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In the human body, each of the two adrenal glands sits on top of each kidney. These glands function by secreting hormones, such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol, notes Healthline. A non-functional adrenal lesion is an adrenal mass characterized by the absence of hormonal processes. The features and size of the lesion determine the signs, manifestations and possible treatment for this condition.

The presence of non-functional lesions is less common in newborns than in adults. In neonates, sudden adrenal hemorrhage triggers the formation of sizable adrenal lesions, which are similar to neuroblastoma or Wilms' tumor.

In adults, 50 percent of non-functional adrenal lesions are adenomas, which are benign tumors. Other adrenal masses can be cysts, lipomas, carcinomas or metastatic tumors. Non-cancerous cysts that occur in the elderly may be caused by cystic deterioration, lymphomas, vascular injuries, parasitic invasion or infections due to bacteria and fungi. The proliferation of tuberculosis pathogens through the blood may also cause adrenal lesions.

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