Adrenalectomy during pregnancy: A 15-year experience at a tertiary referral center

Surgery. 2020 Aug;168(2):335-339. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2020.03.019. Epub 2020 May 17.


Background: Adrenal lesions diagnosed during pregnancy remain rare, and their management is challenging because of maternal physiologic modifications, restricted imaging investigations, and contraindications to several treatments. Surgical issues of adrenalectomy during pregnancy and consequences on perinatal outcomes are poorly described. We therefore aimed to report maternal and fetal outcomes after adrenalectomy during pregnancy.

Methods: All pregnant women who underwent adrenalectomy over a 15-year inclusion period were identified from a prospectively maintained database. Surgical management and maternal and fetal outcomes were reviewed.

Results: From January 2003 to July 2018, a total of 12 women underwent adrenalectomy at a median gestation of 20 weeks. Of these women, 11 had hyper-secreting lesions, including 8 with cortisol oversecretion, and 11 had benign lesions, including cortisol-secreting adenoma (n = 5), pheochromocytoma (n = 2), primary pigmented, nodular adrenal disease (n = 1), severe Cushing's disease (n = 2), and hematoma (n = 1). A total of 3 patients with severe Cushing's disease (n = 2) and primary pigmented, nodular adrenal disease (n = 1) required bilateral adrenalectomy. One patient presented with a malignant adrenal Ewing sarcoma. Adrenalectomy during pregnancy was performed by the lateral laparoscopic transabdominal laparoscopic route in 9 patients. Postoperative morbidity occurred in 3 women. Maternal mortality was nil, but preterm birth occurred in 7 cases and intrauterine growth retardation was observed in 3 cases. Finally, among the 12 women, 10 had a child in good health.

Conclusion: During pregnancy, a lateral laparoscopic transabdominal approach is a feasible procedure. Maternal outcome is acceptable but fetal outcome is determined by the underlying disease, with a worse outcome when the adrenalectomy is indicated for malignant lesions or Cushing's syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Adrenal Cortex Diseases / surgery
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Adrenalectomy*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cushing Syndrome / surgery
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Length of Stay
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / surgery*
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / surgery
  • Tertiary Care Centers