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The adrenal (or suprarenal) endocrine glands make hormones that circulate in the blood. These hormones control metabolism and responses of the body to stress, and many other functions. The adrenal glands are normally under the control of the pituitary gland in the brain. A tumor in one of the glands can make a hormone in an uncontrolled fashion leading to symptoms of endocrine excess. For example this can be a surgically curable cause of high blood pressure. Laparoscopic removal when surgery is necessary for disorders of one or both adrenal glands has become the standard. Careful evaluation by an endocrinologist in consultation with the surgeon, blood and urine tests followed by CT or MR scans are usually necessary to make the diagnosis and determine which gland is affected. Four tiny incisions in the side of the abdomen, most no more than one quarter of an inch long, are made during the surgery. Hospitalization is usually one night and return to normal activity takes about a week.

On the right is an example of a benign adrenal tumor. The circular yellow lumps are the tumor cut through its middle. The tissue on the lower left is the gland itself. A needle is pointing to the adrenal vein. The scale is in centimeters.


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