Adrenalectomy -- Open Surgery

Adrenalectomy is the removal of one or both adrenal glands. There is one adrenal gland on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands make several hormones, including cortisol, aldosterone, and sex steroids. The adrenal glands also make adrenaline and noradrenaline in small amounts.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
    • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
    • Pain, burning, urgency, or frequency of urination; blood in the urine
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
    • Headaches
    • Lightheadedness
    • Any new symptom

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    Adrenalectomy is the removal of one or both adrenal glands. There is one adrenal gland on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands make several hormones, including cortisol, aldosterone, and sex steroids. The adrenal glands also make adrenaline and noradrenaline in small amounts.

    Adrenal Glands
    Adrenal Kidney
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    Your adrenal gland may be removed if you have any of the following:

    • Adrenal cancer

    • Diseases of the adrenal gland, causing it to make too much of a hormone such as
      Cushing's syndrome
      , Conn’s syndrome, and
      Pheochromocytoma
    • A large adrenal mass
    • An adrenal mass that cannot be identified with a needle biopsy

  • Possible Complications

    Complications from having an adrenalectomy may include:

    • Insufficient cortisol production
    • Decreases in blood pressure
    • Bleeding
    • Infections in the wound, urinary tract, or lungs
    • Blood clots in the legs
    • Injury to nearby organs or structures
    • Adverse reaction to anesthesia

    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Increased age
    • Obesity
    • Long-standing cortisol excess
    • Smoking
    • Poor nutrition
    • Recent or chronic illness
    • Heart or lung problems
    • Alcoholism
    • Use of certain medicines such as blood pressure pills, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, insulin, steroids, sedatives, or hypnotic agents
    • Use of illegal drugs such as LSD, hallucinogens, marijuana, or cocaine