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Adrenalectomy

Definition

Adrenalectomy is surgery to remove one or more adrenal gland. The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and are located just above the kidneys.

Alternative Names

Adrenal gland removal; Removal of adrenal glands

How the test is performed

Adrenalectomy is a procedure that can be performed using traditional "open" surgery or less invasive laparascopic techniques. Laparoscopic procedures use smaller surgical cuts than open surgery.

For the surgery, you will be placed under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free). The surgeon makes a surgical cut in the abdomen and removes the adrenal gland through this opening. (The size and number of cuts depends on which surgical technique is used.)

The tissue is sent to a pathologist for examination.

How to prepare for the test

You should not eat or drink anything, even water, for 8 hours before the procedure.

How the test will feel

As with any minimally invasive surgery, there will be some discomfort after surgery.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe pain medications.
  • You may need stool softeners to avoid constipation.
  • Physical activities are encouraged to strengthen the abdominal wall muscles.

Complete recovery from the procedure may take 1 to 2 weeks.

Why the test is performed

This surgery is most often performed when there is an adrenal mass or a tumor (such as a pheochromocytoma).

Normal Values

This procedure is performed only when there is an abnormality (as identified by other testing).

What abnormal results mean

  • Pheochromocytoma (the most common adrenal tumor)
  • Other malignant tumors
  • Benign conditions such as adenoma
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II

What the risks are

There is a slight risk of infection or bleeding with any invasive procedure. Call your health care provider if you notice any signs of infection (such as fever, muscle aches, or drainage from the incision site) or bleeding.

Special considerations

It is important to have the procedure done at a center that is experienced in adrenal gland removal.

Review Date: 10/24/2007

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.