Background: Three approaches are currently used for endoscopic adrenalectomy - the lateral (transperitoneal), the posterior (retroperitoneal), and the anterior (transperitoneal). Both the lateral and posterior approaches are performed with the patient placed in the flank decubitus position; in the anterior approach the patient is supine. This study was designed to compare these three types of access in a relatively large series of patients undergoing adrenalectomy at three different institutions. Methods: Laparoscopic adrenalectomy was performed in 216 patients with a variety of adrenal disorders, including 66 patients with Conn's syndrome, 55 with incidentaloma, 58 with Cushing's syndrome, 33 with pheochromocytoma, two with virilizing adrenogenital syndrome, and two with other lesions. Seventy-two adrenalectomies were performed using the lateral access, 67 via the posterior approach, and 77 via the transperitoneal anterior approach. There were 111 right and 105 left lesions. Results: One patient in the lateral access group and three patients in the posterior group required conversion to open surgery. No conversions were needed in the anterior group. The learning curve was statistically significant only in the anterior access group. In both of the transperitoneal approaches (lateral and anterior), a statistically significant correlation was found between the operative time and the patient's body mass index (BMI). The postoperative hospital stay and time needed to return to normal activities were similar for the three groups. One patient who underwent retroperitoneal adrenalectomy for Cushing' disease died in the postoperative period of Candida sepsis and peritonitis. Conclusions: The anterior access route requires that the surgeon be skilled in advanced laparoscopic surgery. Both of the transperitoneal approaches (anterior and lateral) are suitable to remove larger adrenal masses. The posterior access may represent a better option in obese patients or in cases with small lesions.

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Surgical Endoscopy: surgical and interventional techniques
Department of Surgery

Lezoche, E., Guerrieri, M., Feliciotti, F., Paganini, A., Perretta, S., Baldarelli, M., … Miccoli, P. (2002). Anterior, lateral, and posterior retroperitoneal approaches in endoscopic adrenalectomy. Surgical Endoscopy: surgical and interventional techniques, 16(1), 96–99. doi:10.1007/s004640090043