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Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is surgery to remove all or part of your adrenal gland. It is usually done when a small tumor is found on the gland. Small incisions are made in your abdomen. A laparoscope is inserted through the incisions. A laparoscope is a long metal tube with a tiny video camera and a light on the end. The camera displays pictures of your adrenal glands on a monitor. The surgery is performed through the incisions made for the laparoscope. The monitor is used to guide the surgery tools to the right place.


The week before your surgery:

  • Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using any of your present medicines. If you take aspirin, ibuprofen, or blood thinners, do not stop taking them without asking your healthcare provider.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your healthcare provider for special instructions about what you may eat and drink before your surgery. If you use medicine to treat diabetes, your provider may have special instructions about using it before surgery. You may need to check your blood sugar more often before and after surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • X-ray dye may be used during your surgery to help healthcare providers see your adrenal glands better. Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp). You may also be allergic to the dye.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • You may need to have blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG), chest x-ray, and other tests. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • You may need a blood transfusion if you lose a large amount of blood during surgery. Some people are worried about getting AIDS, hepatitis, or the West Nile virus from a blood transfusion. The risk of this happening is very low. Blood banks test all donated blood for AIDS, hepatitis, and the West Nile virus. You may be able to donate your own blood before surgery. This is called autologous blood donation. This must be done no later than three days before surgery. You may also ask a family member or friend with the same blood type to donate blood for you. This is called directed blood donation.

The night before your surgery:

  • Remove any nail polish.
  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring all medicines that you are taking, including the pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • What to bring: You may want to bring items such as a toothbrush and bathrobe.
  • If you wear contact lenses, do not wear them on the day of your procedure or surgery. Glasses may be worn.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothes on the day of your procedure or surgery.
  • Healthcare providers will insert an IV into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist may talk to you before your surgery. This healthcare provider may give you medicine to make you sleepy before your surgery. Tell your healthcare provider if you or any member of your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal piece of paper (informed consent). It gives your healthcare provider permission to do the surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen with the surgery, and your treatment choices. Be sure all of your questions have been answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. You will be taken on a stretcher to the operating room and then moved onto a special bed. Your abdomen and genital area will be cleaned and sheets will be put over you. Healthcare providers will give you general anesthesia to keep you asleep during surgery. A catheter may be inserted to drain your urine. A nasogastric (NG) tube may also be put into your nose and passed down into your stomach.
  • Small cuts will be made in your abdomen. Healthcare providers will insert the laparoscope and other tools into the incisions. Your abdomen will be filled with carbon dioxide gas to make it swell. The adrenal gland will be separated from its attachments and removed. The incisions will be closed by stitches or tape, and covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will watch you closely for any problems. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be watched. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is OK. When healthcare providers see that you are OK, you will be taken back to your hospital room. The bandages covering your stitches will keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection.

Waiting area:

This is an area where your family and friends can wait until you are able to have visitors. Ask your visitors to provide a way to reach them if they leave the waiting area.


  • You cannot make it to surgery on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have trouble breathing or your heart is beating faster.
  • Your abdomen is tender and hard.
  • Your vomit contains blood.
  • Your signs and symptoms are getting worse.


  • Problems may happen during your surgery and may lead to a laparotomy (open surgery). An example is bleeding that cannot be controlled. Your stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or kidneys may get injured during the surgery. You could also have trouble breathing, get an infection, or have too much bleeding after surgery. The gas used to expand your abdomen may cause shoulder or chest pain for 1 to 2 days after your surgery. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening.
  • Without treatment, the symptoms that you have may worsen and cause high blood pressure. These symptoms can put your life in danger.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.