, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 90-93

Adrenal masses in neoplastic patients

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The incidence of complications resulting from fine-needle biopsy of adrenal masses in patients already treated by radical procedures for primitive neoplasms of the lungs and kidneys substantiates our opinion concerning laparoscopy as both a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure.


We performed 70 laparoscopic adrenalectomies from April 1995 to December 1999. In five patients, the adrenal mass appeared at follow-up evaluation in patients submitted to surgery for a spinocellular lung cancer. One patient underwent surgery for renal adenocarcinoma. In two patients, the adrenal mass was present already at the time primitive lung tumor was diagnosed, so adrenalectomy was performed at the first lung surgery in one patients were placed in a lateral position for a transperitoneal approach. Right adrenal masses were present in seven patients, whereas one patient had an adrenal mass in a left location.


No laparotomy was required. The average surgical time was 160 min. (range, 115–120 min). No morbility or mortality occurred, and the average hospital stay was 4 days (range, 3–11 days). All the patients had a complete removal of their masses, which averaged 4.5 cm (range, 2.5–6 cm) in size. Histology confirmed the metastatic origin of the mass in five of seven patients with primary lung cancer, and in one patient with previous kidney cancer. At this writing, three patients were disease free and still alive respectively at 3, 5, and 18 months. Three patients died of brain metastases respectively at 16, 36, and 36 months. An adenoma was proved in the other two cases.


Laparoscopic adrenalectomy allows us to propose a much more aggressive approach to adrenal masses demonstrated at follow-up evaluation or in patients with primary lung or kidney cancer and no masses at other locations. Nevertheless a much larger study is required for definitive conclusions on a survival rate. We believe that a mini-invasive procedure such as laparoscopy may allow us to replace a rational surgical approach with a more certain pathologic diagnosis.

Online publication: 6 October 2000