Laparoscopic Cortical-Sparing Adrenalectomy for Bilateral Pheochromocytoma

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A 32-year-old female with asthma was hospitalized for pneumonia in 2/06. She underwent a CT scan of the chest which revealed an incidental finding of bilateral adrenal masses. On further questioning, she admitted to palpitations and flushing. She was normotensive. Biochemical workup was significant for elevated urinary norepinephrine and normetanephrines, and plasma catecholamine level. MIBG scan showed positive uptake in the left adrenal gland consistent with pheochromocytoma. T2 weighted MRI showed bilateral adrenal masses, left greater than right. After adequate alpha blockade with phenoxybenzamine, the patient underwent a laparoscopic left adrenalectomy. Pathology revealed a 3.5 cm pheochromocytoma. The patient then underwent a right cortical-sparing adrenalectomy to avoid complete adrenal insufficiency and Addisonian crisis. The choice of operation was made realizing the potential for increased bleeding, which was further complicated by the patient’s Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, which prohibit transfusion of any blood products. At surgery, a small, well-circumscribed mass of the inferior right adrenal gland was found, and excised in its entirety. A postoperative ACTH-stimulation test showed appropriate cortisol response. Pathology revealed a 1.5 cm pheochromocytoma, and the patient recovered uneventfully. Cortical-sparing adrenalectomy has been reported with success rates of 65–100% in avoiding exogenous steroid dependence.1,2 Bilateral pheochromocytoma remains the most common indication. Risks for both recurrence and malignancy require lifelong follow-up in these patients.

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  1. 1.

    Neumann HP, Bender BU, Reincke M, Eggstein S, Laubenberger J, Kirste G (1999) Adrenal-sparing surgery for phaeochromocytoma. Br J Surg 86:94–97

  2. 2.

    Walz MK (2004) Extent of adrenalectomy for adrenal neoplasm: cortical sparing (subtotal) versus total adrenalectomy. Surg Clin North Am 84:743–753

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Correspondence to Edward H. Chin.

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Chin, E.H., Baril, D.T., Weber, K.J. et al. Laparoscopic Cortical-Sparing Adrenalectomy for Bilateral Pheochromocytoma. Surg Endosc 22, 2075 (2008).

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  • Laparoscopy
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Cortical-sparing
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Bilateral