An adrenalectomy is the surgical removal of one or both of the adrenal glands, which are part of the endocrine system. There is one adrenal gland located on top of each kidney. These glands release regulatory hormones that impact your blood pressure, metabolism and blood sugar. When they start to malfunction, they may release too much hormone and need to be removed.

Why the adrenal glands need to be removed

Cancer, tumors (such as a pheochromoctyoma), and certain disorders like Conn’s syndrome or Cushing syndrome are some of the most common problems that necessitate an adrenalectomy.

When one adrenal gland is removed, the other one assumes its functionality. In the event both adrenals need to be removed, you’ll need supplemental medication to replace the hormones the adrenals used to produce.

The operation

An adrenalectomy requires general anesthesia. It can be done either open or laparoscopically.

If you require an open procedure, a larger incision will be made to access the adrenal gland(s). If done laparoscopically, a few small incisions will be made and a small camera will be inserted into your abdomen to allow the surgeon full visual access to the field. Fine instruments will then be used to excise the adrenal gland(s).

A short hospital stay will likely follow the surgery. You’ll discuss your options and the preparation for surgery with your surgeon when you come in for your appointment.