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Adrenalectomy is the removal of one or both adrenal glands. There is one adrenal gland on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands make several hormones, including cortisol, aldosterone, and sex steroids. The adrenal glands also make adrenaline and noradrenaline in small amounts.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Your adrenal gland may be removed if you have any of the following:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will likely do some or all of the following:
Let your doctor know which medications you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking or adjust the dose of certain medications.
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 medication. 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 TOP
You will likely be given IV fluids, antibiotics, and medications that depend on the condition that is being treated.
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 TOP
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 reactions to the surgery or anesthesia.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
1½ hours-3½ hours
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
Postoperative Care TOP
At the Hospital
The staff will monitor your breathing, pulse, and temperature. You may also need:
Recovery time may be as long as 4-6 weeks. To help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Urology Care Foundation
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Urological Association
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
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Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDonald Buck, MD
Last Updated: 3/18/2013
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