The adrenal glands, also called suprarenal glands, are endocrine glands located directly above the kidneys. These star-shaped glands consist of a cortex (the outer part) and a medulla (the inner part). The medulla creates the "fight or flight" hormones — epinephrine and norepinephrine. The adrenal cortex creates the hormones needed for proper fluid and electrolyte balance, including cortisone and aldosterone.
Tumors are the most common problems with the adrenal glands. Tumors may be either benign or malignant, but both types of tumors generally need to be treated. Adrenal tumors can cause symptoms including heart palpitations, high blood pressure, pain in the abdomen and flank areas, sudden changes in weight, stretch marks, and many other symptoms. However, some people who have adrenal gland tumors don't experience any symptoms at all.
Radiological tests including CT scans or MRIs are the most common ways to diagnosed adrenal gland tumors. Blood tests also check the quantity of adrenal hormones present in the circulatory system.
There are several situations in which surgical removal of the adrenal gland may be recommended. For instance, if the tumors cause hormone overproduction, if the tumors consistently make too much adrenaline, or if the tumors is solid and bigger than 4 cm in size, the doctors at Association of South Bay Surgeons usually recommend surgical removal. In the case of adrenal gland cancer, prompt removal of the entire gland is typically the best treatment. If the patient has an adrenal mass of any size that is causing symptoms like chronic pain, surgical removal of the gland may be best.
Recovery varies based on the surgical approach. Open adrenal gland surgery is more complex and requires a longer recovery. This surgery may be preferred in cases where there is a very significant adrenal gland tumor or when cancer is advanced. Patients usually stay in the hospital for 5-10 days after this type of surgery, and recover over a period of 4-6 weeks at home. Laparoscopic adrenal gland surgery is preferred in most cases, as it allows for shorter and easier recovery. Most patients leave the hospital after just a day, and recover over 2-4 weeks.
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