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Am J Surg. 1998 Mar;175(3):183-6.

A comparison of adrenalectomy with other resections for metastatic cancers.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, John Cochran VA Medical Center and St. Louis University School of Medicine, Missouri, USA.



Although adrenal metastases were once considered incurable, recent anecdotal reports recommend adrenalectomy for isolated metastases.


Computerized files of all US Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) hospital admissions and deaths from 1988 to 1994 identified patients undergoing isolated adrenal resections, and hospitalization records were obtained. Patients without a death record were assumed to be alive.


In 47 patients with adrenalectomy for metastases, only 5 patients did not die within 3 years: 2 each had metachronous renal or colorectal metastases, and 1 had a pulmonary primary. Thirteen patients with other primary sites all expired within 3 years. Operative mortality was 4% in these 47 patients and also in 706 other adrenalectomies without metastases.


Adrenalectomy for metastatic carcinoma in the DVA was safe, with a projected 5-year survival rate (13%) that is significantly inferior (P < or = 0.05) to resections for colorectal metastases to lung (36%) or liver (26%), but superior to brain (none).

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