Laparoscopic adrenalectomy: lessons learned from 100 consecutive procedures

Ann Surg. 1997 Sep;226(3):238-46; discussion 246-7. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199709000-00003.


One hundred consecutive laparoscopic adrenal procedures for a variety of endocrine disorders were reviewed. There was no mortality, morbidity was 12%, and conversions was 3%. During follow-up, none had recurrence of hormonal excess. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is the procedure of choice for adrenal removal except in carcinoma or masses > 15 cm.

Objective: The authors evaluate the effectiveness of laparoscopic adrenalectomy for a variety of endocrine disorders.

Summary background data: Since the first laparoscopic adrenalectomy was performed in 1992, this approach quickly has been adopted, and increasing numbers are being reported. However, the follow-up period has been too short to evaluate the completeness of these operations.

Methods: One hundred consecutive laparoscopic adrenal procedures from January 1992 until November 1996 were reviewed and followed for adequacy of resection.

Results: Eighty-eight patients underwent 97 adrenalectomies and biopsies. The mean age was 46 years (range, 17-84 years). Indications were pheochromocytomas (n = 25), aldosterone-producing adenomas (n = 21), nonfunctional adenomas (n = 20), cortisol-producing adenomas (n = 13), Cushing's disease (n = 8), and others (n = 13). Fifty-five patients had previous abdominal surgery. Mean operative time was 123 minutes (range, 80-360 minutes), and estimated blood loss was 70 mL (range, 20-1300 mL). There was no mortality, and morbidity was encountered in 12% of patients, including three patients in whom venous thrombosis developed with two sustaining pulmonary emboli. During pheochromocytoma removal, hypertension occurred in 56% of patients and hypotension in 52%. There were three conversions to open surgery. The average length of stay has decreased from 3 days (range, 2-19 days) in the first 3 years to 2.4 days (range, 1-6 days) over the past 16 months. During follow-up (range, 1-44 months), two patients had renovascular hypertension and none had recurrence of hormonal excess.

Conclusion: Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is safe, effective, and decreases hospital stay and wound complications. Prior abdominal surgery is not a contraindication. Pheochromocytomas can be resected safely laparoscopically despite blood pressure variations. Venous thrombosis prophylaxis is mandatory. The laparoscopic approach is the procedure of choice for adrenalectomy except in the case of invasive carcinoma or masses > 15 cm.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adenoma / diagnosis
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Adrenalectomy / adverse effects
  • Adrenalectomy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Endocrine System Diseases / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Pheochromocytoma / diagnosis
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • Reoperation