Bilateral renal agenesis is a fetal malformation incompatible with extrauterine life. Accurate prenatal diagnosis is essential for patient counseling. False-negative diagnoses have been reported and were attributed to the sonographic misidentification of apparently hypertrophied fetal adrenal glands as fetal kidneys. To study the relationship between renal agenesis and adrenal size, we reviewed autopsy records from 11 affected fetuses that had undergone careful autopsy and organ weight determination in our laboratory. Anomalies of distant structures were present in five affected fetuses. A sonographic diagnosis of adrenal hypertrophy had been made in two cases. In four of 11 fetuses, the glands had taken on a flattened discoid appearance. The autopsy records of 240 normal fetuses were similarly reviewed, and regression lines were generated for adrenal weight based on foot length and crown-rump length. The adrenal weights from affected fetuses were well within normal limits when compared with these normal regression lines and with organ weight standards from the literature. We conclude that adrenal hypertrophy is not a common finding in this syndrome and that the reported false-negative diagnoses are more likely attributable to a change in adrenal shape rather than a true increase in adrenal mass.
© 1990 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists