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Surg Endosc. 2003 Feb;17(2):264-7. Epub 2002 Oct 29.

Laparoscopic lateral adrenalectomy versus open posterior adrenalectomy for the treatment of benign adrenal tumors.

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Chirurgische Klinik und Poliklinik Innenstadt, Klinikum der Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Munich, Germany.



Minimally invasive techniques play an important role in adrenal gland surgery. The objective of this study was to compare laparoscopic transabdominal adrenalectomy in the lateral position to the open posterior adrenalectomy with respect to the intraoperative and the short-term postoperative course.


Forty laparoscopic adrenalectomies (LA) carried out between July 1998 and August 2001 were compared to 30 open posterior operations (PA) performed between July 1994 and June 1998. In all cases the indications for surgery was a benign lesion smaller than 8 cm.


Age, gender, tumor size, and distribution of the tumor histology were comparable in both groups (LA vs PA). In favor of LA, statistically significant differences (p <0.05) were observed regarding the intraoperative blood loss (260 vs 380 mL), the postoperative narcotic equivalents (2.9 vs 6.4 mg), the morbidity rate (13 vs 27%), and the length of hospital stay (7 vs 10 days). Average operating time was significantly longer for LA (135 vs 106 min). There were two conversions to open adrenalectomy due to diffuse bleeding. Following LA, we observed one major complication (postoperative bleeding from the spleen making a laparotomy necessary) and four minor complications (one small retroperitoneal hematoma, two subcostal nerve irritations, one pleural effusion). PA resulted in one major (wound infection) and seven minor complications (two subcutaneous hematomas, two nerve irritations, two pleural effusions, one dystelectasis).


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy proved as a safe and reliable procedure, displaying all advantages of minimal access surgery. In our institution, it has become the standard technique employed for benign adrenal disease. However, the operation is technically demanding, and as adrenal surgery is rare, it should be restricted to centers with special interest in laparoscopic and endocrine surgery.

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