Adrenalectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the adrenal glands, which lie above each kidney. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing hormones that are necessary for bodily functions, such as the regulation of blood pressure and metabolism. If your adrenal glands overproduce certain hormones, or if a tumor grows on them, removal of the glands is a treatment option.
Adrenal surgery can be open or laparoscopic. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that inserts a thin tube with a camera (laparoscope) through several small incisions on your abdomen. Your surgeon uses the laparoscope to guide the procedure and is able to access and remove your adrenal glands through the small incisions. Laparoscopic adrenal surgery lasts approximately 1-2 hours.
Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is associated with shorter recovery periods, reduced risk of infection, and smaller scars. Although these factors may be desirable, the location of the tumor, its size, and the severity of your condition may require that you instead undergo open surgery. An open adrenalectomy is typically done for larger adrenal tumors and requires a single, large incision on your abdomen. Open adrenal surgery takes around 2-4 hours.
Following your operation, you will remain in the hospital for 1-2 days for a laparoscopic adrenalectomy or 3-5 days for an open adrenalectomy. You will likely have a liquid diet immediately after your surgery, but you should be able to return to solid foods after a day. If both of your glands are removed, you will be given drug therapy to replace the hormones they produced.