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Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy (Adrenal Gland Surgery)


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UW Health surgeons perform laparoscopic adrenalectomy (also known as minimally invasive adrenal surgery), 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 same day or the day after surgery with minimal pain, and many return to work within seven to 10 days.


Retroperitoneoscopic Adrenalectomy


UW Health surgeons also offer another minimally invasive approach, using three small incisions in the back. This approach is associated with less pain and a quicker recovery.

Your surgeon can help you decide whether an adrenal tumor is best removed with laparoscopic adrenalectomy, retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy or the traditional open adrenalectomy.