Laparoscopic adrenalectomy, a minimally invasive surgical technique to remove the adrenal gland, is now being performed at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. Dr. Eric Velazquez, a general surgeon affiliated with Southeastern Surgical Center, performed the first laparoscopic adrenalectomy at the medical center earlier this year.
Lumberton resident Faye Milstead was told that she needed surgery, but that she would most likely have to travel out of town for the procedure. After further investigation, she consulted with Dr. Velazquez who was able to perform the procedure using the minimally invasive technique.
“It meant absolutely everything that I was able to get this done at Southeastern,” said Milstead. “It would have been difficult for me to have traveled out of town not only for the procedure but also for the follow-up visits.”
The adrenal glands are normally very small organs located above the kidneys. They make certain hormones that are vital for normal function of the human body. Tumors can occur in the adrenal gland like in any other part of the human body. Adrenal tumors may or may not secrete hormones. Symptoms, such as hypertension not responding to medication, depend on the type of adrenal tumor present.
“Some tumors of the adrenal glands can be very detrimental to health,” said Velazquez. Most are found incidentally when patients receive imaging tests, such as an abdominal CAT scan, for other health issues. If the tumor is found to be malignant or producing hormones, the patient would typically be scheduled for surgical removal of the tumor and the adrenal gland. However, if the tumor found is benign and not disrupting function of the adrenal glands, depending on size, the physician may decide to forgo surgery and keep the tumor under close observation.
The minimally invasive or laparoscopic adrenalectomy procedure does not require large incisions in the middle of the abdomen or on the side of the body. Instead, four small incisions are made just under the rib cage. The advantage of the laparoscopic adrenalectomy procedure is the faster recovery time.
“The typical hospital stay for patients having this type of procedure is two days after surgery, to ensure fluid status and regular body operation is normal,” said Velazquez.
Patients typically have follow-up appointments at one, three and five weeks after surgery and then less frequently to monitor for any complications or recurrence.
“I was able to return to work after two weeks,” said Milstead. “I was fully prepared for whatever might happen. I did wonderful and never had one drop of pain.”
For more information about health concerns related to the adrenal glands, consult your primary care provider. For more information about Southeastern Surgical Center, call 739-0022.
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