Tulane Health System specializes in minimally invasive surgical options to treat conditions of the endocrine system, which includes the adrenal glands, the thyroid gland and the parathyroid glands. Our highly trained surgeons utilize the latest robotic-assisted surgical techniques to ensure minimal scarring and blood loss during procedures.

Adrenal gland surgery

The adrenal glands are a pair of glands located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, the way the body uses food and other vital functions.

Reasons for adrenal gland surgery

Adrenal gland surgery is typically performed to treat adrenal tumors. Tumors can either be ma¬lignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous.) Symptoms can occur from each of these types of tumors.

Common types of adrenal tumors include:

  • Primary hyperaldosteronism: In 80% of patients, an adenoma, or benign tumor, causes primary hyperaldosteronism. The adenoma oc¬curs in the adrenal cortex and releases too much aldosterone. Symptoms include high blood pres¬sure, low potassium levels and muscle weakness.
  • Pheochromocytomas: This type of tumor results in the release of too much epinephrine and nor¬epinephrine, hormones that control heart rate, metabolism and blood pressure. Symptoms can include headache, sweating, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure.
  • Cushing’s syndrome: Cushing’s syndrome usually occurs when a tumor in the adrenal cortex caus¬es an excess of cortisol. Symptoms may include facial puffiness, increased fat pads below the back of the neck, muscle loss, increased weight around the abdomen, easy bruising, facial hair, high blood pressure and mood changes.

Types of adrenal gland surgery

Most adrenal tumors can be removed with mini¬mally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery uses very small cuts or incisions. Laparoscopic and robotic surgery are both types of minimally invasive surgery commonly performed at Tulane Health System. With both types of surgery, the surgeon uses a thin, flexible tube with a light and tiny video camera to view the surgical area and small surgical instruments to remove adrenal gland(s). When minimally invasive surgery isn’t an option, the surgeon will perform a traditional open surgery to remove the adrenal gland.

Thyroid gland surgery

The thyroid gland is located in the neck and consists of two lobes, right and left. It makes the thyroid hormone, which helps regulate body metabolism.

Reasons for thyroid surgery

Thyroid surgery is performed for reasons such as symptomatic thyroid goiter nodules, recurrent thyroid cysts, Graves’ disease and to rule out or treat thyroid cancer. The purpose of the surgery is to remove part or the entire thyroid. Usual¬ly patients will stay in the hospital one night to recover.

Parathyroid gland surgery

There are usually four parathyroid glands which are located next to the thyroid gland in the neck. Rarely, there may be a fifth or sixth gland. Occasionally, one or more parathyroid glands may be located elsewhere in the neck or upper chest region. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps your body regulate calcium levels. Parathyroid hormone keeps the amount of calcium from falling too low by releasing calcium from the bones, by keeping calcium from being excreted by the kidneys and by increasing calcium absorption from food.

Reasons for parathyroid surgery

Parathyroid surgery is typically performed to treat hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid gland(s) enlarge and make too much parathyroid hormone. This leads to a rise in calcium levels. The purpose of parathyroid surgery is to locate and remove the abnormal parathyroid gland(s.) Rarely, all four parathyroid glands need to be removed, and sometimes, a portion of one is transplanted into the forearm. The hospital stay for these cases may be more than one night depending on the patient’s calcium level after surgery.

Thyroid and Parathyroid surgery without a neck scar

Tulane is a regional leader in transaxillary robotic-assisted thyroid and parathyroid surgery, which utilizes the latest da Vinci® Si high-definition minimally invasive robotic surgical system to make a 2-inch incision below the armpit. This allows the physician to maneuver a small camera and specially designed surgical and nerve monitoring instruments between the muscles of the neck to access the thyroid or parathyroid gland. Diseased tissue can be removed through this incision, eliminating the prominent neck scar that is a byproduct of the traditional surgical approach, and reducing the risk of injury to the nearby glands and nerves. Read more about this revolutionary new procedure.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, please contact the Tulane GI and Surgery Clinic at (504) 988-5110.