, Volume 397, Issue 2, pp 233-238
Date: 21 Sep 2011

Minimally invasive cortical-sparing surgery for bilateral pheochromocytomas

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Cortical-sparing adrenalectomy in bilateral pheochromocytomas offers a postoperative corticoid-free course and has to be balanced against the risk of local recurrence. In this study we report our experience with the minimally invasive cortical-sparing adrenalectomy in patients with bilateral pheochromocytomas.


From January 1996 to February 2011, 66 patients (45 men, 21 women; mean age 36 ± 16 years) were treated for bilateral pheochromocytomas. Fifty-seven patients (88%) were affected by genetic diseases. In 32 patients surgery was synchronously performed on both side, in 34 cases adrenalectomy followed previous surgery. All in all, 101 operations (47 right, 54 left) were conducted using the retroperitoneoscopic access (n = 97) or the laparoscopic route (n = 4).


The mortality in our series was zero. Postoperative complications included one patient with a bleeding requiring reoperation and one patient developing a cerebral stroke on the fifth postoperative day. The mean operative time was 67 ± 26 min for unilateral adrenalectomy and 128 ± 68 min for bilateral surgery (range 25–300 min). A cortical-sparing resection was possible in 89 procedures resulting in a corticoid-free postoperative course in 60 patients (91%). A postoperative corticosteroid substitution therapy was necessary in six patients. During a median follow-up period of 48 months, one patient showed a persistent disease and needed reoperation, none developed a recurrent disease.


Cortical-sparing surgery for bilateral pheochromocytomas has a low recurrence rate and avoids lifelong cortisone substitution therapy in the majority of cases.

This paper was presented at the ESES Workshop in Lyon, France, Mai 2011.