What Is Adrenalectomy?

What Is Adrenalectomy?

An adrenalectomy is a surgical procedure to remove either one or both of the adrenal glands, which are located just above the kidneys.

The adrenal glands are small organs that secrete hormones – such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, androgens, estrogens, aldosterone, and cortisol – which help regulate a range of bodily functions like your immune system, blood sugar levels, blood pressure control, and metabolism.

Adrenalectomies are commonly used to treat benign or cancerous tumours in the adrenal gland. Other reasons may include excessive secretion of a hormone that can cause harmful side effects.


An adrenalectomy can be performed in two ways. This will depend on what is being treated and your state of health. Your doctor will discuss what treatment is best for you.

The two types of adrenalectomy are:

Open adrenalectomy – An open adrenalectomy is often required when either the adrenal glands or the tumors are abnormally large. In this procedure a single incision is made either in the abdominal wall just under the ribcage, or the back or sides. The surgeon then disconnects the adrenal gland from the blood vessels and surrounding tissue, removes it via the incision and closes the wounds.

Laparoscopic adrenalectomy – Laparoscopic adrenalectomies are less invasive than open surgery and as such the recovery time is much quicker. This is where the adrenal glands are removed via several small incisions using fibre-optic technology.

Risks and Side Effects

There are a few risks associated with an adrenalectomy, as with any major surgery, such as bleeding, infection and damage to nearby organs, though serious complications are uncommon.

Side effects of removing the adrenal gland include major hormone imbalances caused by the surgery. This can in turn cause affect bodily functions like healing, metabolic function, blood pressure levels and blood sugar levels.


Recovery Time

Recovery after an adrenalectomy is contingent on the patient’s overall health and the type of procedure performed.

Immediately after surgery, patients are taken to recovery and their vital signs are monitored. Once they wake from anaesthesia, they are taken to a regular hospital room.

Pain and numbness at the incision site is common for a period after the surgery.

Recovery times will be different for each patient and the procedure. Patients who have had laparoscopic surgery will usually stay in hospital for 2-3 nights while those who have had open surgery stay for 5-7 nights. Heavy lifting and other strenuous activities are discouraged for up to 6 weeks and driving is discouraged for up to 2 weeks. However, light activities and return to work are recommended whenever the patient feels up to it.

Adrenalectomy with Urology Specialist

We are experts in the field of adrenalectomy. In particular, Dr Mohan Arianayagam specialises in laparoscopic adrenalectomy.

After initial training in General surgery at Royal North Shore hospital, his urology training began in 2006 at Port Macquarie Hospital, Westmead and then Prince of Wales Hospital. During this time Dr Arianayagam had significant exposure to laparoscopic surgery and was soon able to perform many laparoscopic procedures.

While completing his Urologic Oncology fellowship at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine there was also significant exposure to more laparoscopic surgery and it was during this time that Dr Arianayagam also honed his skills further.

He routinely performs the entire breadth of laparoscopic surgery ranging from total to partial kidney removal (nephrectomy) as well as all aspects of adrenal surgery.

Preparing for your first urologist appointment

A urologist is a specialist that treats conditions relating to the urinary tracts of male and females, as well as…

Common types of hernias

Hernias occur because of muscle weakness, often in the abdominal region, and where the cavity wall is weak. These points…

Do you need more information about your upcoming surgery?