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J Am Coll Surg. 1996 Jul;183(1):1-10.

Laparoscopic adrenalectomy compared to open adrenalectomy for benign adrenal neoplasms.

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Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Laparoscopic adrenalectomy has recently been used for removing a variety of adrenal neoplasms. The purpose of the present study was to compare results and outcomes in patients who underwent either laparoscopic or open adrenalectomy at our institution from 1988 to the present.


The records of 66 consecutive patients with benign adrenal neoplasms who underwent adrenalectomy from 1988 through 1995 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into three groups based on the operative approach: group I (n = 25), open anterior transabdominal approach; group II (n = 17), open posterior retroperitoneal approach; and group III (n = 24), laparoscopic transabdominal flank approach. Various parameters were compared and statistical analyses were performed.


The three groups were similar in age, gender, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, and distribution of unilateral compared with bilateral adrenalectomy. Mean tumor size was slightly larger in group I (3.4 +/- 1.4 cm) than in group II (2.4 +/- 1.4 cm) or group III (2.7 +/- 1.4 cm) (p = NS). Mean operative times for unilateral adrenalectomy were 142 +/- 38 minutes in group I, 136 +/- 34 minutes in group II, and 183 +/- 35 minutes in group III (p < 0.001, groups I and II compared with group III). For bilateral adrenalectomy, mean operative times were 205 +/- 71 minutes (group I), 328 +/- 11 minutes (group II), and 422 +/- 77 minutes (group III). Patients who underwent laparoscopic adrenalectomy had significantly less operative blood loss (mean, 104 mL compared to 408 mL in group I and 366 mL in group II, p < 0.001) and a lower incidence of perioperative blood transfusion. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy was also associated with significantly reduced parenteral pain medication requirements (p < or = 0.001) and more rapid resumption of a regular diet (p < or = 0.01) compared to open adrenalectomy. Postoperative length of stay was significantly longer in group I (8.7 +/- 4.5 days) and in group II (6.2 +/- 3.9 days) after open adrenalectomy than after laparoscopic adrenalectomy (3.2 +/- 0.9 days) (p < 0.01). Total hospital charges were similar for groups II and III but somewhat higher for group I. Patients were able to resume 100 percent activity an average of 10.6 +/- 4.9 days after laparoscopic adrenalectomy and returned to work a mean of 16.0 +/- 6.1 days postoperatively.


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is a safe and effective procedure and has several advantages over open adrenalectomy. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy should become the preferred operative approach for the treatment of patients with small, benign adrenal neoplasms.

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