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Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy (Adrenal Gland Surgery)

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UW Health surgeons perform laparoscopic adrenalectomy, most commonly to remove tumors from the adrenal gland, which is responsible for producing hormones.

 

The Adrenal Glands

 

Adrenal Gland
Figure 7: Enlarged adrenal gland

The adrenal glands are 2 small glands that are located on top of each kidney.

 

The main role of the adrenal glands is to make hormones including adrenaline or steroids. Normally, only one or part of one adrenal gland can produce enough hormones for the body.

 

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 (Figure 7).

 

The Procedure

Laparoscopic adrenalectomy scar

Incisions from a laparoscopic adrenalectomy

 

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 day after surgery with minimal pain and many return to work within seven to 10 days.