Isolated Adrenal Metastasis: The Role of Laparoscopic Surgery

World Journal of Surgery. 2006 Mar 13; [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Sebag F, Calzolari F, Harding J, Sierra M, Palazzo FF, Henry JF.

Department of General and Endocrine Surgery, Hopital de la Timone, Boulevard Jean Moulin, Marseille Cedex 5, 13385, France,


Background: Solitary adrenal metastases (AM) are rare and their management unclear. Surgery, especially laparoscopic adrenalectomy (LA), is debatable in the management of AM. This retrospective study analysed the feasibility and the results of LA for AM.

Methods: From 1997 to 2003, 16 patients underwent LA for isolated AM. Completeness of resection, postoperative morbidity and follow-up (FU) were recorded.

Results: There were 10 synchronous AM and 6 metachronous AM. Primary tumours included lung cancer (n = 9), melanoma (n = 3), mesothelioma (n = 1), rhabdomyosarcoma (n = 1), colonic adenocarcinoma (n = 1) and renal cell carcinoma (n = 1). Five patients required conversion to an open procedure. Minor complications occurred in three patients. Pathology confirmed the diagnosis of AM. Mean tumour size was 60 (range: 15–110)  mm. Nine patients (56%) had complete resections, 3 had positive margins and 4 had incomplete macroscopic resections. Mean observed FU was 25 (range: 1–68) months. Median overall calculated survival was 23 months. Overall 5-year survival was 33% (Kaplan–Meyer). At the end of study, 8 patients were alive with a mean FU of 35 months (3 without evidence of disease). No patient presented with local relapse or port-site metastasis. We did not identify any predictive factors. All patients with incomplete macroscopic resection died within 24 months.

Conclusions: LA can achieve an acceptable 5-year survival, comparable to open surgery but with better postoperative comfort. It should be considered for AM with the intention of complete resection. It offers the patient the possibility of tumour resection with the benefit of a laparoscopic approach.