Bilateral adrenal enhancement revised—adrenal-to-spleen ratio as an appropriate mortality predictor

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Purpose: To investigate whether adrenal gland radiodensities alone or set in relation to either the inferior vena cava (IVC) or the spleen can predict hospital mortality in intensive care unit patients. Methods: One hundred thirty-three intensive care patients (90 males, age: 66.3 ± 14.5 years) with an acute clinical deterioration were included in this retrospective analysis. CT attenuation (Hounsfield units) of adrenal glands, IVC, and spleen was evaluated by 2 radiologists separately. Adrenal-to-IVC and adrenal-to-spleen ratios were calculated. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, combined with the Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC) as a classifier, was used to assess which parameter is the most suitable for short-term, intermediate-term, and overall mortality prediction. Interrater agreement was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Results: The highest discriminative power to distinguish between deceased and survivors was found for the adrenal gland-to-spleen ratio for the 72-h mortality. A threshold of > 1.4 predicted 72-h mortality with a sensitivity of 79.31% and a specificity of 98.08% (area und the curve (AUC) = 0.94; p < 0.0001; MCCs = 0.81). The positive likelihood ratio was 41; the positive predictive value was 92.20%. Adrenal gland-to-spleen ratio was also best suited to predict the 24-h and overall mortality. ICCs of HU measurements in adrenal gland, IVC, and spleen indicated a high interrater agreement (ICC 0.95–0.99). Conclusions: To conclude, the adrenal-to-spleen ratio in CT in portal venous phase may serve as an imaged-based predictor for short, intermediate, and overall mortality and as reproducible prognostic marker for patient outcome.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2107-2114
Number of pages8
JournalAbdominal radiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

External IDs

PubMed 33306145
ORCID /0000-0001-5258-0025/work/146644944



  • Adrenal enhancement, Hospital mortality, Intensive care unit, Mortality prediction, Prognosis