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Surg Endosc. 2002 Feb;16(2):252-7. Epub 2001 Nov 16.

The positive impact of laparoscopic adrenalectomy on complications of adrenal surgery.

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  • 1Department of Surgery and Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



This study was conducted to determine whether laparoscopic adrenalectomy (LA) has had a positive impact on the incidence and nature of adrenalectomy-related complications, as compared with the prelaparoscopic era.


All English language reports of patients undergoing either open adrenalectomy (OA) or LA from 1980 to 2000 were identified by Medline search. Reports were analyzed for the frequency and type of complications, with a minimum of 10 cases or studies required for inclusion. Complications were stratified by type and/or organ system involved, and groups were compared statistically using generalized linear model methods.


Complications were tabulated from 50 studies of LA involving 1,522 patients and 48 studies of OA comprising 2,273 patients. Among the reports, 22 compared LA and OA within a single institution. The total reported complication rate was 25.2% with LA versus 10.9% with OA (p < or = 0.0001). The incidence of bleeding complications was higher with LA (4.7%) than OA (3.7%) (p < or = 0.0001). As compared with LA, OA had a significantly higher incidence of associated organ injury (2.4% vs 0.7%), mainly to the spleen, and more wound (6.9% vs 1.4%), pulmonary (5.5% vs 0.9%), cardiac (1.6% vs 0.3%), and infectious (5.8% vs 1.6%) complications (p < or = 0.0001). No significant differences in gastrointestinal, thromboembolic, or neurologic complications were seen. The mortality rate was 0.3% after LA and 0.9% after OA. The difference was not significant.


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy has resulted in fewer adrenalectomy-related complications than seen historically with OA. Fewer wound and pulmonary complications and a reduced incidence of incidental splenectomy are primarily responsible for this improved outcome.

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