What is adrenalectomy surgery?
Adrenalectomy surgery involves the removal of one or both of your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are two small organs that sit above each kidney. Adrenal glands secrete hormones that are responsible for regulating several bodily functions including your metabolism, blood sugar levels, immune system, and blood pressure.
Why do I need adrenalectomy surgery?
Your surgeon will talk to you in detail about your specific condition and why you need an adrenalectomy. The most common reason to have your adrenal glands removed is because of a cancerous or non-cancerous (benign) tumour. If only one adrenal gland needs to be removed the other gland can usually take over.
What happens in an adrenalectomy?
An adrenalectomy can be performed in two ways:
Laparoscopic adrenalectomy. During this procedure the surgeon makes a number of small incisions into your abdomen, quite close to your bellybutton. He or she inserts a laparoscope (a thin tube with a camera and a light) into one of the incisions. Your abdominal cavity will be filled with a safe, surgical gas. This will help the doctor see your adrenal glands clearly.
Your surgeon will use surgical instruments to disconnect your adrenal glands and cauterise your blood vessels. Your adrenal glands will then be removed.
Open adrenalectomy. If you have large tumours on your adrenal glands or if your surgeon thinks it’s in your best interests, he or she may opt for an open procedure. Open surgery involves the use of a singular, larger incision, which will be either under your ribcage or on your side. Your surgeon will then disconnect your adrenal gland and tie off the blood vessels to stop any bleeding. After your adrenal gland is removed, your surgeon will close the incision with stitches.
What is the cost of an adrenalectomy?
Adrenalectomy procedures are performed in both public and private hospitals. If you choose to have your procedure in a private hospital, a portion of the cost may be covered by your private health insurance. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your insurance provider.
Please contact the Sydney GI Surgery team to discuss your needs and for an accurate assessment of the cost involved.
What are the risks of an adrenalectomy?
An adrenalectomy is generally a safe procedure, however, as with any surgery there is a risk of potential complications including:
- Adverse reactions to the anaesthetic
- Bleeding or infection
- Blood clots
- Damage to nearby organs in the body
- High blood pressure or extreme changes in blood pressure
Recovery from adrenalectomy surgery
After your surgery you will be moved into a recovery room where your vital signs will be monitored. After you have woken from your anaesthesia you will be transported to a regular hospital room.
If you’ve had laparoscopic surgery you will probably need to stay in hospital for two nights. If you’ve had open surgery your hospital stay will probably be four or five nights.
Most people return to work after a couple of weeks or when they feel ready. Your doctor will probably advise you to avoid heavy lifting for at least six to eight weeks after surgery.
If your adrenalectomy removed both of your adrenal glands you will need to take medication to replace the hormones that your glands normally produce.