Surgical removal of an adrenal gland, or adrenalectomy, is most commonly performed for a tumor located within the adrenal gland that is either producing too many hormones or is potentially cancerous. Frequently, the hormones produced by an adrenal tumor can cause high blood pressure, headaches, tremors, and other symptoms. Generally, patients are referred for an adrenalectomy after an abdominal CT scan reveals an enlarged adrenal gland.
Laparoscopic surgery refers to the technique in which a surgeon operates within the abdominal cavity with small telescopes and long instruments. Prior to the development of the procedure known as laparoscopic adrenalectomy, the removal of an adrenal gland consisted of a moderate to large incision and a hospital stay of three to seven days. With laparoscopic adrenalectomy, surgery occurs through three or four small incisions measuring less than 0.5 inches.
Most patients go home the same day or the day after surgery with minimal pain, and many return to work within seven to 10 days.
Laparoscopic adrenalectomy can be done using one of three different techniques:
- Transabdominal (i.e. through the belly)
- Retroperitoneal (i.e. through the back)
Who is a Candidate For Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy?
- Tumors less than 10 cm in diameter (~ 4 inches). Tumors larger than this are more likely to be cancerous and therefore require better exposure and a more aggressive operation. Tumors larger than this also pose a technical problem because the surgeon has difficulty seeing around it with the camera.
- Tumors which secrete hormone. These masses are ideally suited for this approach.