Your adrenal glands are two small glands located above your kidneys that produce essential hormones for your body. These hormones help to regulate your blood pressure, glucose usage, and other chemical responses, so you can see how problems can occur quickly if there is an issue with your adrenal glands. Thankfully, diseases of the adrenal glands are relatively rare, but hormone imbalance and tumor development are two reasons why someone would need an adrenalectomy. Below, we take a closer look at why problems develop, what symptoms they cause, and how adrenal gland surgery is performed.
Adrenal Gland Problems and Symptoms
The most common reason why someone would need adrenal gland surgery is because a small tumor has formed in the gland, and this has impacted healthy hormone production. In most cases, these tumors are not cancerous, but that doesn’t mean their impact on the body isn’t significant.
Some of the most common symptoms adrenal tumors cause include:
- Severe headaches
- Excessive Sweating
- High Blood Pressure
- Muscle Weakness
- Frequent Urination
Diagnosing and Treating Adrenal Gland Tumors
Adrenal gland issues are often discovered when doctors are imaging for other issues, but if the above symptoms are present, doctors may focus on the glands as a potential problem source. Adrenal gland tumors can be identified using an X-ray, but doctors usually rely on a more thorough imaging source to analyze the tumor before developing a treatment plan. The imaging techniques most often used include CT scans, MRIs or specialized X-rays.
Surgery is the preferred treatment method for individuals whose adrenal tumors lead to excess hormone production or if the tumor appears malignant. With advancements in medical technology, surgeons no longer need to use an open technique to operate on the adrenal gland. What once was a 6- to 12-inch scar now involves a couple of ¼ inch to ½ inch incisions and the use of a laparoscope. Not only does this technique lead to a reduced likelihood of complications, but it also leads to quicker recoveries and less pain for the patient.
After receiving general anesthesia, the surgeon makes a few small incisions and a laparoscope is inserted so the surgeon can visualize the gland. The laparoscope relays a magnified version of the gland onto a screen in the operating room. Tools are inserted and the adrenal gland is carefully separated from its attachments. Once free, the gland is removed and the incision sites are closed. In almost all cases, the whole gland is removed instead of attempting to remove the tumor while leaving the gland in tact.
Adrenal Gland Surgeon in Minnesota
After surgery, hormone levels and blood pressure will be monitored. The patient may need to take regular hormone doses to make up for the loss of the adrenal gland, but most people will gladly take daily hormone pills if it means their adrenal gland issue is cured. For more information about the procedure, or to talk to an endocrine specialist if you’ve been told you have an adrenal gland issue, reach out to Dr. Koeplin’s office today.