The Adrenal Glands
The adrenals are two small, wedge shaped glands that rest on top of each kidney. The outer layer, the adrenal cortex, produces hormones such as cortisol. These hormones affect salt and water balance in the body, the body's response to stress, metabolism, the immune system, and sexual development and function. The inner layer, the adrenal medulla (muh-duh-luh), produces hormones such as epinephrine (eh-puh-neh-frun). Also called adrenaline, this hormone increases blood pressure and heart rate when the body is stressed.
Adrenal Gland Surgery
Tumors in the adrenal glands can be cancerous or cause too much hormone in the body. This can cause problems such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, excess sweating, and weakness. Some people can have their adrenal gland taken out with a laparoscope (through small wounds in their belly). Others will require a 3 to 9 inch incision (open approach) to remove the gland.
Getting Ready for Surgery
Plan to take 1 week off work to recover after surgery. If you require an open operation you may need a longer time to recover (4 - 6 weeks). Do many of your household and other chores before surgery. We will want you to avoid any heavy lifting or straining for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
- Your throat will be sore when you swallow. This often lasts 1 – 2 days.
- You will stay in the hospital overnight and most likely go home the day after surgery. Please arrange for someone to give you a ride home. Plan to have a responsible adult stay with you the first night at home.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- You may have aching in your shoulders from the gas put in your abdomen during surgery. For relief, lie flat and put several pillows under your hips. Stay in this position for 5 – 15 minutes. The gas pain will go away.
- Small pieces of tape (Steri-strips) are used to reinforce the incision. The pieces of tape should remain in place until your follow-up visit. If the tape starts to curl up, the edges may be trimmed.
- Check your incision daily, until you see your doctor, for signs and symptoms of infection
- Increasing redness or warmth to touch
- Pus-like drainage or blood
- Temperature (by mouth) above 100.4°F for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart
Small areas of bruising at your incision stie are to be expected.
You can shower after 2 days. At that point it is okay to get the Steri-Strips wet
Avoid soaking or scrubbing the incision(s) until they are well healed often about 2 weeks.
- It's normal to have some pain. Your doctor will order pain pills for you to take.
- Do not lift more than 20 pounds. If you have laparoscopic wounds you will be limited for 1 – 2 weeks. If you have a 3 – 9 inch wound you will be limited for 4 – 6 weeks.
- Walking is okay and encouraged.
- No strenuous activity or activities that include pulling, pushing, and twisting until cleared by your doctor
- Sexual activity may be resumed when you feel ready, which may not be for 2-3 weeks after your surgery.
- Do not drive for 1 week.
- Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain pills.
Pain pills can increase your chance of constipation. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and eat high fiber foods.
- 8-10 (8 oz.) glasses of fluids a day (water, juice, tea, etc.)
- At least 4 servings of fruits or vegetables
- At least 2-4 servings of whole grain bread or cereal
You may need to use a stool softener (Colace®) and/or a bulk fiber laxative (Metamucil®) to prevent constipation. Buy these over-the-counter. Follow package directions.
When to Call the Doctor
- Increasing redness or warmth around the wound
- Blood or pus-like drainage
- Temperature greater than100.4° F by mouth for two readings taken 4 hours apart
- Pain not controlled with pain pills
General Surgery Clinic: (608) 263-7502, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
After hours, holidays and weekends, this will give you the paging operator
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/01/2011
Copyright © 02/01/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5704
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