Adrenal Diseases

The adrenal glands are responsible for releasing different hormones. Adrenal gland disorders can be caused by variation in the production of hormones. Depletion of hormones produced by other organs also affects the function of adrenal glands.  The adrenal glands produce various hormones that control many important functions in the body. These hormones include:

  • Cortisol
  • Aldosterone
  • Adrenaline
  • Noradrenaline

Various functions controlled by the adrenal hormones include:

  • Maintaining metabolic processes
  • Manage blood sugar levels
  • Regulating inflammation
  • Regulating the balance of salt and water
  • Controlling the response to stress
  • Maintaining pregnancy
  • Initiating and controlling sexual maturation
  • Important source of sex steroids (estrogen and testosterone)

Symptoms caused by adrenal gland disorder

Symptoms associated with abnormal adrenal gland include pheochromocytomas, aldosterone-producing tumors, and cortisol-producing tumors.

  • Pheochromocytomas: the condition is caused by excess hormones produced by the gland and leads to high blood pressure, headaches, excessive sweating, anxiety, and rapid heart rate.
  • Aldosterone producing tumors: the condition causes high blood pressure and low potassium levels.
  • Cortisol producing tumors: the condition causes Cushing’s syndrome and is associated with symptoms including obesity, high blood sugar and blood pressure, menstrual irregularities and prominent stretch marks.

The doctor diagnoses the condition and presence of tumors by performing special X-ray tests, CT scan, nuclear medicine scan, an MRI or selective venous sampling to locate the adrenal tumor.

Causes of adrenal gland disorders

Improper functioning and production of hormone cause adrenal gland disorder. Adrenal gland disorders occur when too much hormone is produced or when too little hormone is produced and include:

  • Genetic mutations
  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • Malfunction of pituitary gland that helps regulate the adrenal gland
  • Certain medications
  • Hormones from external source( outside the body)

Treatments for adrenal gland disorders

Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy is a minimally invasive surgical method to remove the affected adrenal gland along with the tumor. The surgeon initiates the procedure by administering a dose of anesthetic and makes few small incisions and inserts a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long thin tube that has a camera attached to its end to view the internal organs as enlarged images through a monitor connected. After investigation few more incisions are made and other surgical tools are inserted to remove the malfunctioning adrenal gland from the body. The incisions are closed and sutured. Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy has several advantages including:

  • Less postoperative pain and discomfort
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and return to normal activity
  • Improved cosmetic result with minimal scars
  • Reduced risk of wound separation