The term laparoscopic adrenalectomy means removal of an adrenal gland using the ‘keyhole’ (laparoscopic) surgical method. The laparoscopic method of adrenal gland removal involves using three or four one centimetre cuts (incisions). A thin tube with a light and camera on the end (a laparoscope), and surgical instruments can then be passed through these incisions. The camera sends pictures to a TV screen so that the surgeon can see the adrenal gland and surrounding organs. One of the incisions (cuts) will be enlarged to enable the gland to be removed once it has been disconnected from the surrounding tissues and blood vessels.
A laparoscopic adrenalectomy is performed under a general anaesthetic. You will meet the anaesthetist on the day of your operation and he or she will discuss the anaesthetic and pain relief with you. You should expect to stay in hospital from 2 to 4 nights depending on the reason for the operation.
The laparoscopic, and most commonly used, method of adrenal gland removal has been shown to cause less blood loss, less pain and fewer complications than the open method, and also a much shorter recovery time. The open method is now only used in more complex cases. Open surgery to remove an adrenal gland involves making a large cut on the side with unavoidable problems such as more intense pain which makes moving around more difficult, a hospital stay of 7 to 10 days, and a prolonged time off work. Your Urology consultant will discuss with you in detail which approach is appropriate for you.