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J Endourol. 2000 Mar;14(2):149-54.

Laparoscopic adrenalectomy for large-volume (> or = 5 cm) adrenal masses.

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Department of Urology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.



Laparoscopic adrenalectomy has emerged as the standard of care at many centers for small surgical adrenal masses. However, the role of laparoscopic adrenalectomy in the treatment of large adrenal masses has not been specifically addressed. Our aim was to evaluate the outcome of laparoscopic v open adrenalectomy for large-volume (> or =5 cm) adrenal masses and to compare laparoscopic adrenalectomy for large- and small-volume (<5 cm) masses.


Data from 14 patients with large adrenal masses undergoing laparoscopic adrenalectomy between February 1998 and March 1999 (Group I) were retrospectively compared with 14 contemporary large-volume open adrenalectomies between December 1992 and May 1998 (Group II) and 45 small-volume laparoscopic adrenalectomies between July 1997 and November 1998 (Group III).


In Group I and Group II, the mean surgical time (205 min v 216 min) and blood loss (400 mL v 584 mL) were similar. Although the mean adrenal size was also comparable (8 cm v 7.8 cm), the specimen weight of the en bloc adrenal gland and periadrenal fat was greater in Group I (168 g v 106 g). The hospital stay was shorter in Group I (2.4 days v 7.7 days). Minor complications occurred in 21.4% of Group I and 50% of Group II patients. On comparing Group I and Group III (laparoscopic <5 cm), Group I had larger specimen weight (168 g v 51.4 g), longer surgical time (205 min v 158 min), greater blood loss (400 mL v 113 mL), longer hospital stay (2.4 days v 1.5 days), a higher complication rate (21.4% v 8.9%), and a higher incidence of open surgical conversion (14.3% v 2.2%). Over a mean follow-up of 9.9 months, no local or port-site recurrences have been noted in Group I.


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy for large-volume adrenal masses is technically feasible and seems to replicate open surgical oncologic principles of achieving a wide-margin, en bloc excision of the adrenal gland and periadrenal fat. Successful laparoscopic resection is not impacted by the large size of the adrenal mass per se but rather by the presence of local invasion and poorly defined tissue planes that may be encountered in adrenal malignancy. As such, laparoscopic adrenalectomy for large masses should be attempted only by experienced laparoscopic surgeons and then with a low threshold for open conversion.

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