The methods used to test for adrenal nodules include blood tests, urine analyses and biopsies, explains the University of Michigan Health System. Some tests may involve the use of advanced imaging techniques, such as computerized axial tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.
The adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys in a space known as the retroperitoneum, notes the UMHS. They are primarily responsible for making hormones such as norepinephrine, cortisol and aldosterone. They also produce small quantities of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Adrenal nodules typically cause no symptoms and are generally discovered with CT scans and MRIs used to check for unrelated conditions, notes the UHMS. Tests are then conducted to confirm that the abnormalities are not cancerous and are not interfering with the normal operations of the adrenal glands.
CT scans and MRIs are used to explore the specific nature and location of adrenal nodules, notes the UMHS. Further tests are conducted on blood and urine samples provided by patients over specified time periods to measure the levels of certain hormones in the body. Doctors review the results to determine if the adrenal nodules are causing excessive hormone production. In some cases, biopsies may be used to explore the nature of an abnormality.