Adrenal glands

Laparoscopic adrenalectomy in Santa Barbara, California

The adrenal glands secrete various essential hormones in the body, including those that regulate glucose levels and protect the body from stress. Occasionally, one of the two glands develops a tumor that secretes hormones abnormally. Sometimes the tumor doesn’t produce hormones, but it is so large it may be cancerous. In either instance the abnormal gland must be surgically removed in a procedure called adrenalectomy. In Santa Barbara, California, board certified surgeon Dr. David Thoman performs minimally invasive adrenalectomy using the laparoscopic technique.

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  • How is laparoscopic adrenalectomy performed?

    Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses small, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision. The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera which projects a view of the operative site onto a video monitor. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, a gas, to allow a better view of the operative area. Dr. Thoman makes several additional small incisions in the abdomen through which he places very small, specialized surgical instruments. These instruments are used to carefully dissect out the affected adrenal gland. The gland is then placed into a plastic bag and removed through one of the incisions that has been slightly enlarged.

    What are the benefits?

    After adrenalectomy the healthy, remaining gland usually compensates for the one that is removed. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy provides many benefits, which include:

    • Surgery requires only 4 tiny incisions, instead of 1 large abdominal incision.
    • Hospital stays are so brief many patients leave the day after surgery.
    • Postoperative pain is less than with open surgery.
    • Patients recover in days instead of weeks, and can readily return to their daily activities, including work.
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  • What can I expect after laparoscopic adrenalectomy?

    Most of our patients are up walking and taking care of themselves within hours of surgery. Patients might experience mild abdominal soreness, but it typically lasts for a few days to 2 weeks. Because the small incisions don’t rupture like the large incision of the open procedure, you can return to full activity as tolerated. In general, there are no restrictions with lifting or exercising after this surgery.

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  • How safe is laparoscopic adrenalectomy?

    Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is as safe as “open” surgery, if it is performed by a surgeon who possesses specialized training and experience like Dr. Thoman. In fact, many studies have shown this technique to be superior to the open technique and it is now the standard of care.