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J Urol. 2009 Jun;181(6):2430-6; discussion 2436-7. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2009.02.027. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Management of the adrenal gland during partial nephrectomy.

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Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.



Nephron sparing surgery is an increasingly used alternative to Robson's radical nephroadrenalectomy. The indications for adrenalectomy in patients undergoing partial nephrectomy are not clearly defined and some surgeons perform it routinely for large and/or upper pole renal tumors. We analyzed initial management and oncological outcomes of adrenal glands after open partial nephrectomy.


Institutional review board approval was obtained for this study. During partial nephrectomy the ipsilateral adrenal gland was resected if a suspicious adrenal nodule was noted on radiographic imaging, or if intraoperative findings indicated direct extension or metastasis.


Concomitant adrenalectomy was performed in 48 of 2,065 partial nephrectomies (2.3%). Pathological analysis revealed direct invasion of the adrenal gland by renal cell carcinoma (1), renal cell carcinoma metastasis (2), other adrenal neoplasms (3) or benign tissue (42, 87%). During a median followup of 5.5 years only 15 patients underwent subsequent adrenalectomy (0.74%). Metachronous adrenalectomy was ipsilateral (10), contralateral (2) or bilateral (3), revealing metastatic renal cell carcinoma in 11 patients. Overall survival at 5 years in patients undergoing partial nephrectomy with or without adrenalectomy was 82% and 85%, respectively (p = 0.56).


Adrenalectomy should not be routinely performed during partial nephrectomy, even for upper pole tumors. We propose concomitant adrenalectomy only if a suspicious adrenal lesion is identified radiographically or invasion of the adrenal gland is suspected intraoperatively. Using these criteria adrenalectomy was avoided in more than 97% of patients undergoing partial nephrectomy. Even using such strict criteria only 13% of these suspicious adrenal nodules contained cancer. The rarity of metachronous adrenal metastasis and the lack of an observable benefit to concomitant adrenalectomy support adrenal preservation during partial nephrectomy except as previously outlined.

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