Document Type


Publication Date

April 2008


This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author's final version prior to publication in Seminars in Oncology 35(2):172-176, April 2008. The published version is available at Copyright © 2008 Elsevier Inc.


Metastatic disease to the adrenal glands can occur in a wide array of malignancies. With the increased use of abdominal imaging, these lesions are diagnosed with more frequency. Diagnostic and laboratory evaluation is essential for the differentiation of benign lesions from primary malignant adrenal tumors or extra-adrenal metastasis. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics, as well as the adjunctive use of immunocytochemical techniques on biopsy specimens, can allow accurate identification of metastatic lesions. Surgical management of metastastic lesions is appropriate in selected patients, primarily when representing the solitary site of metastatic disease. The surgical approach, while debatable, can de done either through open surgery or laparoscopically. Either approach appears comparable in terms of oncologic efficacy in the carefully selected patient, although laparoscopic adrenalectomy is associated with decreased pain and improved convalescence. The surgeon’s skill in laparoscopic technique, appropriate patient selection, and the ability to adhere to oncologic principles, including complete excision without tumor spillage, are of utmost importance when deciding the appropriate surgical intervention.

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