Robot-assisted adrenalectomy: indications and drawbacks

Updates Surg. 2017 Jun;69(2):127-133. doi: 10.1007/s13304-017-0448-6. Epub 2017 May 12.


Adrenal tumors can vary from a benign adrenocortical adenoma with no hormonal secretion to a secretory adrenocortical malignancy (adrenocortical carcinoma) or a hormone-secreting tumor of the adrenal medulla (pheochromocytoma). Currently, laparoscopic adrenalectomy is regarded as the preferred surgical approach for the management of most adrenal surgical disorders, although there are no prospective randomized trials comparing this technique with open adrenalectomy. However, widespread adoption of robotic technology has positioned robotic adrenalectomy as an option in some medical centers. Speculative advantages associated with the use of the robotic system have rarely been evaluated in clinical settings and cost increase remains an important drawback associated with robotic surgery. This review summarizes current available data regarding robotic transperitoneal adrenalectomy including its indications, advantages, limitations, and comparison with conventional laparoscopic adrenalectomy. We believe that the use of a robotic system seems to be useful especially in more difficult patients with larger tumors, truncal paragangliomas, and bilateral and/or partial adrenalectomies. Overall, we believe that overcosts due to robotic system use could be balanced by hospital stay decrease, patients' referral increase, improved postoperative outcomes in more difficult patients and ergonomics for the surgeon. However, we also believe that the current surgical intuitive business model is counterproductive, because there are no available strong clinical data that could balance overcosts associated with the use of the robotic system.

Keywords: Adrenal glands; Adrenalectomy; Laparoscopy; Pheochromocytoma; Robotics; Telerobotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Adrenalectomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / methods
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / methods*