Adrenal Gland Diseases

The adrenal glands are two small organs located above the kidneys. Because the adrenal glands produce hormones, they are known as endocrine glands. These hormones play a role in controlling blood pressure, chemical levels in the blood, water use in the body, glucose use, and the response to coping with stress in times of stress. These adrenal hormones include cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline hormones – epinephrine and norepinephrine – and a small part of the body’s sex hormones (estrogen and androgens).

Adrenal gland diseases are relatively rare. Patients with adrenal gland problems may have a variety of symptoms related to the gland’s abnormal overproduction of hormones. Adrenal tumors associated with excess hormone production include pheochromocytomas, aldosterone-producing tumors, and cortisol-producing tumors.

Surgical removal of adrenal gland tumors is only necessary if:

  • If the tumor is found to produce excess hormone

  • If large in size (more than 5 centimeters in diameter)

  • If there is any suspicion that the tumor may be malignant.

  • Cancers of the adrenal gland (adrenal cortical cancer) are rare tumors that are usually very large at diagnosis.

Treatment of Adrenal Gland Tumors

Surgical removal of the mass is recommended by the leading international medical associations in cases of adrenal gland masses that show cancerous characteristics or secrete excessive hormones, and in cases of spread (metastasis) to the adrenal gland from other cancers. Although the surgical technique is determined according to the size of the mass and the characteristics of the patient, it can be performed by open or laparoscopic method. The American Society of Gastroenterology and Endocrine Surgeons (SAGES) recommends performing the adrenal gland with minimally invasive methods, except for some special cases.

Success rates are very high in the treatment of adrenal gland disease after both laparoscopic and open surgery. Postoperative recovery and possible problems experienced by the patients vary according to the surgical technique, patient characteristics and the primary disease of the adrenal gland. The follow-up of the patient is determined by the doctor according to the results of the pathological evaluation of the adrenal gland removed by surgery.

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