Anatomical Variations of the Left Adrenal Vein Encountered During Venous Sampling

Published:September 20, 2021DOI:



      To identify anatomical variations in the left adrenal vein (LAV) and to evaluate the role of preprocedural contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) planning.


      The length of the left adrenal central vein (LACV), the vessel that receives blood from all tributaries of the left adrenal gland, was measured using venograms of patients who had undergone adrenal venous sampling (AVS) for the diagnosis of primary aldosteronism between October 2017 and December 2019. The anatomical variants of the LAV were described and classified. Contrast-enhanced CT was used to evaluate the detection rate of the following: (a) confluence of the left inferior phrenic vein and the LAV and (b) the last tributary flowing into the LAV.


      In total, 311 patients (143 men, 168 women; mean age: 49.3 years ± 11.0) were enrolled. Of them, 9 (2.9%) patients had anatomical variants lacking a LACV. In patients with a LACV (n = 302), the venographic LACV length was 9.0 mm ± 3.9 (<1 mm in 9 patients). The detection rate of the confluence of the left inferior phrenic vein and LAV, as determined using contrast-enhanced CT, was high (96.2%), whereas that of the last tributary flowing into the LAV was low (0.8%). In 4 of 18 patients with short or absent LACV, the variant was visualized using contrast-enhanced CT.


      In some patients, the LACV is absent or short, which is an anatomical variation. Understanding venographic anatomical variations can help avoid misleading results resulting from a suboptimal sampling site in AVS. For some subtypes, contrast-enhanced CT may also help in planning the AVS procedure.


      AVS (adrenal venous sampling), CT (computed tomography), LACV (left adrenal central vein), LAV (left adrenal vein), LIPV (left inferior phrenic vein), LTV (lateral tributary vein), PA (primary aldosteronism), sAVS (segmental selective adrenal venous sampling)
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