This study evaluates the intraoperative and postoperative complications in patients with Cushing's syndrome who underwent bilateral adrenalectomy comparing the posterior or anterior operative approach.The posterior approach for bilateral adrenalectomy has been advocated over the anterior approach because of rapid recovery and decreased morbidity, but the long-term complications associated with each procedure are not well described.The intraoperative profiles and morbidity in 48 patients undergoing bilateral adrenalectomy for Cushing's disease through either the anterior or posterior approach from 1985 to the present were reviewed comparing the intraoperative complication and early and late postoperative complication rate and morbidity.Twenty-seven patients underwent an anterior transabdominal procedure, whereas 21 underwent a posterior retroperitoneal procedure via bilateral incisions. Age, weight, and diagnostic categories of Cushing's syndrome were similar between the two groups as well as serum cortisol and 24-hour urinary cortisol levels. Operative time, estimated blood loss, and transfusion requirements were not different between the groups, even though adrenal glands excised through the anterior approach were significantly larger. Acute morbidity was similar between the groups. However, 17 (81%) of 21 patients who underwent posterior bilateral adrenalectomy suffered from chronic back pain, compared with 2 (7%) of 27 via the anterior approach. Five of these patients in the posterior group considered the pain incapacitating, and the mean time to return to work was significantly longer in the posterior group because of back pain.The anterior approach to bilateral adrenalectomy has comparable intraoperative complications and early morbidity compared to the posterior approach. The posterior approach has a very high incidence of chronic incision-related back pain. The anterior approach is the preferred open surgical technique in most patients undergoing bilateral adrenalectomy for Cushing's syndrome without other contraindications for undergoing laparotomy.
View details for Web of Science ID A1997WB87900009
View details for PubMedID 8998121