Alternative names
Adrenal gland removal; Removal of adrenal glands


Adrenalectomy involves removal of one or more adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and are located just above the kidneys.

How the test is performed

This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is most often performed laparoscopically. A laparoscope is a device that allows the physician to see the surgical area with a small camera. Laparoscopic procedures use smaller incisions than traditional open procedures.

For this procedure, you will be under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free). A small incision is made in the abdomen and a small sample tissue is obtained from the adrenal glands and sent to a pathologist for examination.

This test is most often performed to remove an adrenal mass or tumor (such as pheochromocytoma).

How to prepare for the test

You should not consume any food or fluid for 8 hours before the procedure.

For infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this procedure depends on your child’s age, previous experience, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following:

How the test will feel

As with any minimally invasive surgery, there will be some discomfort after surgery.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe pain medications.  
  • You may need stool softeners to avoid Constipation.  
  • Physical activities are encouraged to strengthen the abdominal wall muscles.

Complete recovery from the procedure may take 1 to 2 weeks.

Normal Values

This test is performed only when there is an abnormality (as identified by other testing).

What abnormal results mean

  • Pheochromocytoma (the most common adrenal tumor)  
  • Other malignant tumors  
  • Benign conditions such as adenoma  
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II

What the risks are

There is a slight risk of infection or bleeding with any invasive procedure. Call your health care provider if you notice any signs of infection (such as fever, muscle aches, or drainage from the incision site) or bleeding.

Special considerations

It is appropriate to consult your doctor to find a center that is experienced in laparoscopic adrenal gland removal.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Simon D. Mitin, M.D.

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