Adrenal Surgery: What to Expect?

What do I need to do before surgery?
You will be expected to see an endocrinologist, anesthesiologist and surgeon before your surgery. You will visit the Georgia Regents Medical Center Adrenal Center where you will see an endocrinologist and surgeon during the same visit. Depending on why you are having adrenal surgery, you may need to take medications to control your blood pressure and heart rate for several weeks before your surgery date.

Pre-Operative Patient Video

What happens on the day of surgery?
You will receive instruction on what time to arrive to the hospital on the day of your operation. Please arrive on time. You will check-in on the 8th floor of the hospital. Your will receive a heparin injection on arrival. Approximately 30 minutes before your scheduled operation time you will be brought to the operating room holding area, where you will meet your anesthesiologist and surgeon again. All documents will be checked. You will have every opportunity to ask your surgeon and anesthesiologist additional questions you may have before you are taken back to the operating room.

What type of anesthesia will you get?
You will receive general anesthesia (completely asleep) before any procedure is performed.

What happens during surgery?
You will arrive to the operating room awake. A compression device will be placed on your legs to prevent clot formation. You will then be completely asleep. You will have a breathing tube in your airway. Additional IVs and catheters may be placed once you are asleep. These may include an arterial catheter to better monitor your blood pressure, a central venous catheter to determine if you are receiving enough fluid during your operation, and a foley catheter to monitor your urine output. You may require additional medicines during your operation to control your blood pressure and heart rate.

What are some possible complications?

  • Converting to open surgery
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Clots in the legs
  • Pneumonia
  • Injury to nearby structures
  • Slow wound healing


What to expect after surgery?
You will be awake after your operation and brought to the recovery area. You should expect to be a little confused from the anesthesia. You may have some abdominal discomfort. You will receive pain medicine in the recovery area, as well as medicine for nausea if needed. While in the recovery area, your surgeon will discuss your care in the operating room with your family. After a few hours in the recovery area, you will be brought to the surgical floor for the remainder of your hospital stay. You will initially receive pain medicine via your IV before transitioning to pain pills. You may be nauseated a few hours after surgery.

How long will you be in the hospital?
You should expect to spend 2-3 days in the hospital for laparoscopic adrenalectomy or 4-5 days for open adrenalectomy

When can I return to work and other normal activities?
You will return to the Adrenal Clinic 3-weeks and 8-weeks following hospital discharge to see your endocrinologist and surgeon. You can plan to return to work and normal activities after your first postoperative visit. Some patients may return to work and other activities earlier after discussing it with their surgeon and other healthcare providers.

After discharge, what concerns should you call your physician with?

  • Signs of infection (fever, chills)
  • Redness, drainage, swelling, increased pain, or bleeding from incision
  • Nausea or vomiting that is not controlled with medications
  • Cough, chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Burning during urination, urgency, frequency of urination or blood in urine
  • Leg pain or swelling of legs