Only selected patients require steroid replacement therapy following adrenalectomy.
University tertiary care center and veterans' hospital.
A total of 331 patients who underwent adrenalectomy by 1 surgeon (Q.-Y.D.) between April 1, 1993, and August 31, 2005.
Laparoscopic, open, and hand-assisted adrenalectomy. Steroid replacement therapy was administered using a standardized hydrocortisone taper protocol.
Main Outcome Measures
Indications for adrenalectomy, operative approach, requirement for postoperative steroid replacement, and episodes of acute adrenocortical insufficiency.
Of the 331 adrenalectomies, 304 were laparoscopic, 23 were open, and 4 were hand assisted. There were 299 unilateral adrenalectomies and 32 bilateral adrenalectomies performed. Fifty-seven (17%) of the 331 patients required steroid replacement after adrenalectomy. Of the 57 patients requiring steroid replacement, 52 had Cushing syndrome and 5 had bilateral pheochromocytomas. The 52 patients with Cushing syndrome included 16 with pituitary tumors who had failed pituitary resection and/or medical therapy, 14 with unilateral adrenal adenomas, 9 with ectopic corticotropin-secreting tumors who had failed resection and/or medical therapy, 7 with incidentalomas and subclinical Cushing syndrome, 4 with macronodular hyperplasia, and 2 with adrenocortical carcinoma. No patients undergoing unilateral adrenalectomy for non-Cushing adrenal disease required steroid replacement. Four (7%) of the 57 patients receiving steroid replacement had episodes of acute adrenocortical insufficiency following operation and required increased steroid supplementation. There were no cases of acute adrenocortical insufficiency in the 274 patients who did not receive steroid replacement.
Steroid replacement therapy after adrenalectomy should be reserved for patients with Cushing syndrome (overt or subclinical) and patients undergoing bilateral adrenalectomy. Patients undergoing adrenalectomy for unilateral non-Cushing adrenal tumors do not require postoperative steroid replacement.