Purpose: Adrenal cortical sparing surgery is a relatively new approach to adrenal tumors. Laparoscopic partial nephrectomy is a technically feasible but challenging operation. We describe the use of intraoperative ultrasound to facilitate laparoscopic partial nephrectomy in a population with a hereditary predisposition to multifocal pheochromocytoma.
Materials and methods: All patients underwent a history, physical examination, serum and urine catecholamine determinations, abdominal computerized tomography-magnetic resonance imaging and metaiodobenzylguanidine scan. The adrenal gland was exposed using a standard 3 or 4 port approach. Intraoperative ultrasound was performed using a 7.5 MHz. 10 mm. transducer placed through a 12 mm. port. After imaging the whole gland and adjacent structures partial adrenalectomy was performed based on intraoperative ultrasound images using a harmonic scalpel or alternatively using a cut and sew technique that provided a 5 mm. margin. Tumors were removed intact and sent for pathological examination.
Results: Since 1998, 11 patients have undergone laparoscopic partial adrenalectomy. Intraoperative ultrasound was performed in 7 patients with suspected multiple adrenal masses, including 4 and 3 who underwent unilateral and bilateral laparoscopic partial nephrectomy, respectively. Six of the 7 patients had germline defects in the von Hippel-Lindau disease gene and 1 had no identifiable alteration in the von Hippel-Lindau disease or RET gene. A solitary tumor was identified in 3 cases and multiple lesions were noted in 4. In 1 case intraoperative ultrasound localized a tumor not identified on preoperative imaging that was not readily visible via laparoscopy. Intraoperative ultrasound guided surgical dissection in all cases and identified an extra-adrenal mass in 1 patient with bilateral adrenal masses. There were no complications due to intraoperative ultrasound and no conversions to open surgery. Mean operative time was 335 minutes and mean estimated blood loss was 179 ml. Histological study demonstrated pheochromocytoma in 14 lesions and the extra-adrenal mass proved to be a splenic rest. At short-term followup no recurrences have been noted. All patients retained sufficient adrenal cortical function to avoid steroid replacement therapy.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic ultrasound differentiates normal adrenal parenchyma from adrenal tumors and facilitates laparoscopic partial adrenalectomy.