Category: Adrenal

Under the heading of “Thyroid” we discuss a wide variety of surgically relevant topics concerning the thyroid gland. Listed below are links to individual thyroid articles. You can go directly to the article that is important to you by clicking on the Title.

Adrenal Glands

The adrenal glands are paired glands that sit on top of the kidneys in the posterior upper abdomen. Each gland has an inner part (the medulla) and an outer portion (the cortex). The medulla makes epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine, which mediate the body’s “flight or fight” response. These hormones increase heart rate and blood pressure. …Read More »

Adrenal Cortical Cancer (ACC)

ACC is rare, the cause is unknown. Smoking may increase the risk of ACC. It occurs more often in women than men. It can happen at any age but the typical patient is about 50 years old. About 50% of these tumors are functional and 50% are non-functional. A variety of hormones can be produced …Read More »

Idiopathic Hyperaldosteronism (IHA)

IHA is the most common cause of hyperaldosteronism. The over-growth of the aldosterone producing cells of the adrenal gland is usually diffuse and occurs in both glands equally. IHA causes 70% percent of hyperaldosteronism . The degree of hormone over-production is usually relatively mild. It is important to differentiate hyperaldosteronism due to IHA from hyperaldosteronism …Read More »

Primary Adrenal Hyperplasia (PAH)

PAH is a very uncommon cause of primary hyperaldosteronism. Rarely, a patient is found to have primary hyperaldosteronism. Imaging studies are performed but are negative. AVS is performed and a clear asymmetric secretion of aldosterone is found suggesting that the excess aldosterone is coming from only one adrenal gland. (Remember both glands over-secret aldosterone in …Read More »

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is caused by over-production of a type of hormone called glucocorticoids. The most important one is called cortisol. These hormones are made by the adrenal cortex. Glucocorticoids regulate how the body handles protein and glucose. They affect immunology and the inflammatory response. They influence blood pressure and the bodies’ response to stress. …Read More »


Pheochromocytoma (pheo) is a rare tumor of the central part of the adrenal gland. As described on other pages, this portion of the adrenal gland is called the medulla. It makes epinephrine (adrenalin) and other vasoactive hormones call catecholamines. These hormones control the bodies’ “flight or fight” reflex. Tumors developing here may be malignant, but …Read More »


Four to 6% of adult patients have an adrenal mass. These tumors are found, incidentally, on CT scans or MRI done to evaluate unrelated signs and symptoms. Adrenal tumors found in this way are known as incidentalomas. When an adrenal mass is discovered unexpectedly, two questions must be answered: Is it cancer? Is it functioning? …Read More »

Adrenal Gland Metastasis

Because of the vascularity of the adrenal glands, metastasis from cancer starting in other organs is not uncommon. Lung, breast and colon cancer may spread to the adrenal glands. Melanoma and lymphoma are other malignancies that can metastasize to the adrenals. Occasionally, When a isolated metastasis to one adrenal gland is found and on detailed …Read More »

Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy

The patient pictured above is about 1 week post-op following a laparoscopic adrenalectomy for a large pheochromocytoma. Four small incisions are seen in the left upper abdomen. The longer incision is where the tumor was removed. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy is the standard of care for most adrenal tumors. It hurts less and the time in the …Read More »