Get to Know about Adrenalectomy its causes, symptoms and treatment

Medpho Team April 27, 2023


Adrenal glands also termed suprarenal glands, are a pair of small glands located just above the kidney, i.e. responsible for producing essential hormones like sex hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. 

When these hormones are produced excessively, or the glands have become cancerous, adrenalectomy is suggested through a minimally invasive procedure. However, it also may be performed as open surgery.

In this blog, we will learn about adrenal tumours that are both benign and cancerous. The blog also covers when adrenalectomy is performed, adrenalectomy symptoms, and adrenalectomy complications. 

When tumours become cancerous, or there are extremities in adrenal glands functioning leading to too much hormone secretion, adrenalectomy surgery is recommended to remove one or both the adrenal glands.

Why is adrenalectomy performed?

Issues related to the adrenal glands are pretty rare. On many occasions, an adrenal tumour produces excessive hormones. In such instances, the surgeon mostly removes the gland and tumour so that hormone levels can get back within normal ranges.

There are also many instances where the gland is not producing hormones but are suspicious of cancer. In such cases, the tumour needs to be surgically removed by adrenalectomy. 

Contact our expert healthcare provider if you need support for any queries regarding adrenal gland removal or any kidney-related issues. #BasEkCall at 88569-88569.

Adrenalectomy Symptoms

Although adrenal tumours are rarely cancerous, increased hormones may lead to health problems. In both cases, i.e. cancerous and excessive hormonal secretion, adrenalectomy surgery is suggested. Some of the adrenalectomy symptoms include 

  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • frequent urination
  • headaches
  • rapid heart rates
  • high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Muscle weakness.

Adrenalectomy diagnosis

Doctors find adrenal gland tumours once the disease starts revealing its symptoms. But some adrenal gland tumours do not cause symptoms, and doctors may find them when they get their CT scan done to look for something else. The tumour may need to be removed after the doctor's diagnosis that

  • Blood or urine tests show the making of extra hormones.
  • When the tumour is more than 2 inches across (4 to 5 centimetres)
  • When the doctor thinks it can be cancer.

Your doctor might also need imaging tests, such as a CAT scan (CT scan), MRI, or other scans to find the tumour.

Adrenalectomy for various types of adrenal tumours

Many types of adrenal tumours need adrenalectomy (removal of the adrenal tumour) because there is extra production of hormones. Below we have discussed the types of adrenal tumours, their symptoms, and signs of adrenal tumours that make different hormones


In pheochromocytoma, the tumour releases hormones that may cause high blood pressure, headaches, sweating and panic attacks. When pheochromocytoma isn't treated, severe or life-threatening damage to other body systems can occur.

Adrenalectomy surgery helps to remove a pheochromocytoma. It aids in returning the blood pressure to normal. The symptoms noticed are

  • painful headaches
  • Sweating
  • Stress
  • Bashing or fluttering heart (palpitations)
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure


Aldosteronoma occurs when excessive aldosterone secretion (a hormone that regulates salt and water balance) occurs from 1 or both of the adrenal glands. Patients usually experience hypertension (high blood pressure) and hypokalemia (low blood potassium). Other symptoms include

  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Frequent urination

Cortisol–producing a tumors-Cushing syndrome

Cushing's syndrome is an ailment when the body makes too much of the hormone cortisol over a long period. Cortisol allows the body to respond to stress and also helps in

  • Maintaining blood pressure
  • Regulate blood glucose, also called blood sugar
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Turn the food you eat into energy

How to prepare for laparoscopic adrenalectomy?

The initial step includes a complete physical examination, and you might need some tests suggested by the doctor to ensure you are healthy enough for surgery.

The surgeon conducting the laparoscopic adrenal gland removal will discuss the risks and advantages of surgery. Next, you will sign a form stating you understand and agree to the operation.

The surgeon's office will guide you on what to do and avoid before surgery. Below are some everyday things you should do:

  • One night before surgery or the same morning, your surgeon may ask you to use an antibiotic soap.
  • It would be best if you stopped eating and drinking when the doctor tells you before surgery.
  • Take the medications your doctor told you are allowed in the morning of your surgery. You can take it with just a sip of water.
  • There are specific medications which you should stop taking before surgery. These include blood thinners, supplements, and medicines that impact your immune system. Talking to your surgeon when laparoscopic adrenalectomy is suggested would be best.
  • Along with this, your doctor can suggest certain medications to start so that you can control the symptoms of the tumour before surgery.
  • When you have a pheochromocytoma, you must start taking medications to control your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • If you have an aldosteronoma, you might need to take potassium. This type of tumour can lead to low levels of potassium electrolyte.
  • Patients with Cushing syndrome need extra cortisone medication on the day of surgery. The additional cortisone medication is required until the adrenal gland works typically. This usually takes a few months.


Advantages of Adrenalectomy surgery

In the last decade, technology has improved a lot, and removing adrenal glands involving a large incision in the abdomen has now been replaced with minimally invasive surgery.

This minimally invasive surgery is termed laparoscopic adrenalectomy, and it uses miniature instruments and a video camera to complete the surgery quickly.

  • less pain post-surgery
  • discharge from hospital in one or two day
  • faster recovery and quicker return to work
  • Smaller faults
  • Lower risk of problems during the healing

Surgical robotics is also a newly adapted technology wherein your doctor guides the robot instead of showing the instruments by hand to do the surgery. This is known as robotic surgery.

Adrenalectomy complications

The Adrenal glands are surrounded by different organs like the colon, pancreas, spleen and diaphragm that might get injured during the operation leading to adrenalectomy complications. Another reason for laparoscopic surgery complications may emerge as monopolar coagulation.

The patient's position on the operating table may also be accountable for difficulties during adrenalectomy. High introduction of a flow of gas into a body cavity during retroperitoneoscopic methods may cause subcutaneous emphysema. Other adrenalectomy complications include

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to nearby organs
  • Infection or problems with the healing of the incision
  • Blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • and lung complications rarely occur after this surgery

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