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Adrenal biopsy

Alternative names

Biopsy - adrenal gland


Adrenal biopsy involves the removal of a small piece of tissue from the adrenal glands for examination. The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and are located just above the kidneys.

How the test is performed

This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is most often performed laparoscopically. A laparoscope is a device that allows the physician to see the surgical area with a small camera. Laparoscopic procedures use smaller incisions than traditional open procedures.

For the biopsy you will be under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free). A small incision is made in the abdomen and a small sample tissue is obtained from the adrenal gland(s) and sent to a pathologist for examination.

This test most often accompanies removal of an adrenal mass or tumor (such as pheochromocytoma ).

How to prepare for the test

You should not consume any food or fluid for 8 hours before the procedure.

Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experience, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:

  • Infant test/procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)
  • Toddler test/procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)
  • Preschooler test/procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)
  • Schoolage test/procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)
  • Adolescent test/procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel

As with any minimally invasive surgery, there will be some discomfort after surgery.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe pain medications .
  • You may need stool softeners to avoid constipation .
  • Physical activities are encouraged to strengthen the abdominal wall muscles.

Complete recovery from the procedure may take 1 to 2 weeks.

Why the test is performed

An adrenal biopsy is usually performed for pathologic examination and identification of an adrenal mass or tumor .

Normal Values

This test is performed only when there is an abnormality (as identified by other testing).

What abnormal results mean

  • Pheochromocytoma (the most common adrenal tumor)
  • Other malignant tumors
  • Benign conditions such as adenoma

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed include multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II .

What the risks are

There is a slight risk of infection or bleeding with any invasive procedure. Call your health care provider if you notice any signs of infection (such as fever , muscle aches , or drainage from the incision site) or bleeding.

Special considerations

It is appropriate to consult your doctor to find a center that is experienced in laparoscopic adrenal biopsy and/or removal.

Update Date: 11/7/2002

William G. Wang, M.D., Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT