Background: Laparoscopic adrenalectomy (LA) is currently recognized as the gold standard for the treatment of most adrenal lesions, with a high safety and feasibility profile. This study aimed to present the extensive experience of a specialized endocrine surgeon in LA in a relatively large series of patients.
Methods: A total of 116 LAs performed from June 2009 to 2018 were evaluated in terms of adrenal pathologies, perioperative management, complications, conversions, tumor size, operative time, and learning curve. The learning curve was assessed using the cumulative sum (CUSUMOT) technique.
Results: Of 116 LAs, 107 (92.2%) were completed successfully, 77 (72%) of which were for Cushing's syndrome (n = 43, 55.8%), pheochromocytoma (n = 26, 33.8%), and Conn's syndrome (n = 8, 10.4%). Conversion was required in 9 cases (7.8%), the most common cause being limited space complicating dissection (n = 3). The mean operative time for successful LAs (unilateral 85, bilateral 22) was 74.7 min (range 40-210 min) and the mean hospital stay was 1.7 days (range 1-5 days). Gender, tumor size and body mass index were found to have no significant relationship with the operative time (p > 0.05). Postoperative normalization in hormone profiles was obtained in all patients but one. Aside from grade-I port-site infections in four patients (3.7%), no postoperative major complications and 30-day mortality were observed. On the CUSUMOT graph, the learning period covered the first 34 operations.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is safe and advantageous, but requires a dedicated team involving experienced endocrine surgeons who have achieved competency after completion of the learning curve.
Keywords: Endocrine; Laparoscopy; Learning curve; Training.