Adrenal Surgery (Adrenalectomy)

The adrenal glands are small, triangle-shaped structures, one above each kidney. They regulate hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, adrenaline and non-adrenaline. As a result of the wide-ranging effects of these hormones, the malfunctioning adrenal glands can cause a variety of ill effects in the body. Most commonly, adrenal gland problems revolve around tumors (benign or malignant) or infections.

Diseases of the Adrenal Glands

  • Cushing syndrome – the overproduction of cortisol
  • Cancer – a rare malignancy
  • Hyperaldosteronism – the overproduction of aldosterone
  • Pheochromocytoma – the overproduction of epinephrine

Surgical Treatment / Adrenalectomy

Most cases of adrenal malfunction are treated by removing the affected gland – this is known as an adrenalectomy. Upon removing the affected gland, most symptoms will disappear. A traditional adrenalectomy requires a large single incision, however, we are now able to access the adrenal glands in a minimally invasive manner, reducing hospital stay, pain, and blood loss, while minimizing common risks such as infection.

In some cases, a laparoscopic adrenalectomy may have to be converted to open surgery if dense scar tissue or obesity reduces access to the adrenal glands, or if there is unexpected bleeding or a larger than expected tumor.

Recovery is usually quick and requires only one or two nights in the hospital. During the initial phase of recovery, patients may experience a number of symptoms as the remaining gland adapts to its new, standalone role. These symptoms may be managed with certain medications.

The risks of surgery are similar to other laparoscopic surgeries and include the inherent considerations of any major surgical procedure. These risks are minimized in the hands of highly experienced surgeons.

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