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Surgery. 1996 Dec;120(6):1076-9; discussion 1079-80.

Is laparoscopic adrenalectomy indicated for pheochromocytomas?

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.



Since the introduction of laparoscopic adrenalectomy there has been major concern about proper indications for its use, including in pheochromocytoma. In this study we reviewed pheochromocytomas resected by means of laparoscopy to establish that procedure's usefulness.


Between January 1992 and June 1995, 90 laparoscopic adrenalectomies were performed in 82 patients. Three to five trocars were used intraperitoneally in each patient to remove the gland, and extraction was performed with a sterile plastic bag.


Twenty-three pheochromocytomas were operated on. Six patients had a bilateral adrenalectomy. Pheochromocytomas were significantly larger than other tumors, required more operating time, and necessitated longer hospital stays in patients. Of all the intraoperative complications 87% occurred in the pheochromocytoma group; 67% of all postoperative complications occurred in this group. In four patients metastasis from pheochromocytoma to the liver was unexpectedly found, and in one case metastasis from a medullary thyroid carcinoma was found. There has been no local recurrence after laparoscopic adrenalectomy.


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy for pheochromocytomas is difficult because tumors are larger and more complications are seen related to their hormonal secretions, in spite of adequate pharmacologic blockade. However, metastatic extensions can be diagnosed and laparoscopic ablation can be performed in most instances without recurrence. It is not, therefore, a contraindication for this approach.

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