Adrenal Biopsy

Overview & Description

There are two adrenal glands in the body, one on top ofeach kidney. These glands produce a variety of hormones that affectalmost all of the body’s functions. An adrenal biopsy involves takinga sample of tissue, usually from only one adrenal gland.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

An adrenal biopsy may be done when an abnormalgrowth or mass is seen in one, or rarely both, of the adrenal glands.This growth or mass may be a tumor or just an infection. Theadrenal glands can usually be seen only during special X-ray tests,such as an abdominal CT scan.

How is the procedure performed?

There are two ways to do an adrenal biopsy.With the first method, a doctor inserts a needle through the skin of the back intothe adrenal gland, while he or she looks at live images from aCT scanor other X-ray. Local anesthesiais used to prevent the person from feeling pain. A medicine to relax theperson may also be given if needed. Once a tissue sample has beenobtained, the needle is removed, and a bandage is placed over the puncture site.

An adrenal biopsy may also be done using surgery, undergeneral anesthesia.A cut is made into the back or abdomen, and the surgeon looks at thegland directly. A piece of the gland can then be removed and sent to the lab.The lab often analyzes the piece of tissue while the person is still asleep.If the tissue turns out to be cancer,surgery can then be done right away to avoid a second operation in the future.

Preparation & Expectations

What is involved in preparation for the test?

Because preparation for this procedure can vary, a personshould ask his or her doctor for instructions.

What happens right after the procedure?

After a biopsy guided with X-rays, a person usuallyrequires little, if any, time to recover. If a relaxing medicine was given,the person often must be monitored for an hour or two until it has startedto wear off. The person may then be able to go home if there is no otherreason to stay in the hospital. If the person wasgiven medicine, someone else should usually drive him or her home. This isbecause the medicines used to relax people often impair the ability to drive.

After the surgical approach to adrenal biopsy, a personoften needs to stay in the hospital for a day or more to recover. He orshe is first taken to a surgery recovery roomfor a few hours, then to the hospital room. In some cases, a person maybe able to go home the same day if someone else drives him or her home.

Home Care and Complications

What happens later at home?

People are usually free to return to their usual activities theday after an X-ray-guided biopsy. The bandage can usually beleft on until it falls off, usually a day or two later. Specific instructionsare provided by the staff.

If the sample was obtained during surgery, recoveryusually takes slightly longer. In this case, the surgeon gives specifichome care instructions before a person leaves the hospital.

The results of the biopsy are usually available within afew days. The biopsy may reveal:

  • a benign, also known as noncancerous, tumor
  • cancerthat started in the adrenal gland or spread from another part of the body
  • an infection
  • What are the potential complications after the procedure?

    An X-ray-guided biopsy may sometimes cause a smallhole in the lungs that can lead to breathing problems. Either methodcan cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reactionto anesthesia.Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.

    Article type: xmedgeneral