by Editorial Staff And Contributors
Adrenalectomy is the removal of one or both adrenal glands. There is one gland on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands make several hormones, including cortisol, aldosterone, and sex steroids.
Reasons for Procedure
Your adrenal gland may be removed if you have any of the following:
Possible Complications TOP
Complications from having an adrenalectomy may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include: Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will likely do some or all of the following:
Let your doctor know which medicines you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking or adjust the dose of certain medicines, such as:
In the days leading up to your procedure:
Your doctors may need to admit you to the hospital before your planned procedure if your blood pressure has not been well-controlled with medicines. This will allow more aggressive treatment to stabilize your blood pressure. It will also ensure that you have enough fluid in your body to prevent blood pressure problems after the surgery is done.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
You will likely be given IV fluids, antibiotics, and steroid medicines.
Large masses are usually removed from the front of your abdomen. This is done so that the mass can be easily removed. The rest of your abdomen can also be examined.
An incision will be made just under your rib cage or in your abdomen. The adrenal gland will be carefully separated from the kidney. The gland will then be removed through the incision. The incision will be closed with either stitches or staples. It will be covered with a sterile dressing.
The doctor may choose to place a tiny, flexible tube into the area where the gland was removed. This tube will drain any fluids that may build up after surgery. It will be removed within one week after your operation.
Immediately After Procedure
The adrenal gland(s) will be sent to a lab to be examined. You will be sent to a recovery room. There, you will be monitored for any adverse reactions to the surgery or anesthesia.
How Long Will It Take?
1½ hours-3½ hours
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Pain or soreness during recovery will be managed with pain medicine.
Average Hospital Stay
At the Hospital
Recovery time may be as long as 4-6 weeks. To help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Urological Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Urological Association
The Kidney Foundation of Canada: British Columbia Branch
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Last reviewed September 2011 by Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 9/1/2011