Division of Surgical Oncology
Before and After Adrenal Surgery
Before Your Clinic Visit:
Prior to your clinic visit, you may need to undergo a series of tests to complete the workup for your adrenal disease. This will include a CT scan as well as blood work. Additional studies may be ordered depending on your type of adrenal disease.
Prior to having surgery, a series of general screening tests are done to make sure you are healthy for surgery. These are often conducted 1-2 weeks before the operation and may include blood work as well as a thorough history and physical exam. Depending on your history, you may also need an EKG, chest x-ray, and/or stress test. These tests evaluate your heart and lung function. They do not require a hospital stay. Depending on your age and health, you may see a high-risk anesthesiologist, your primary care doctor or the surgeon for these tests.
Prior to surgery, you may also meet with an endocrine nurse practitioner who will educate you about the operation and make sure all the appropriate testing has been completed.
PLEASE ASK your doctor or surgeon BEFORE stopping or changing any of your medications.
Medication Guidelines Prior to Surgery:
Certain medications may need to be stopped before surgery. Please consult your surgeon or primary care physician before stopping any of your prescribed medications.
Cardiac medications (blood pressure medications): DO NOT take on the day of surgery:
Iosartan (Cozaar, Hyzaar)
Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
Blood thinners: Please make sure you have discussed this with your physician or surgeon before stopping these medications.
Aspirin – Stop taking 7 days before surgery
Coumadin – Stop taking 5 days before surgery
Heparin – Must be held for 12 hours prior to surgery
Antiplatelet agents (Plavix, clopidogrel, ticlopidine) – Please follow your surgeon or cardiologist’s recommendations.
Insulin – Patient with insulin pumps:
Continue your basal rate ONLY
Patients without insulin pumps:
On the morning of surgery:
Hold short acting insulin
Pre-mixed insulin (eg. 70/30): give 1/3 of usual dose
Lantus: give usual dose
Oral diabetic medications: do not take the morning of surgery
Other prescription medications:
MAO inhibitors – do not take the day of surgery
Premarin – do not take on the day of surgery
Viagra or similar drugs – do not take 24 hours before surgery
Aspirin – stop taking 7 days before surgery
NSAIDS (ibuprofen, Aleve, naproxen, Celebrex) – stop taking 7 days before surgery
Iron – do not take on the day of surgery
Herbal supplements and Vitamin E-containing multivitamins – stop taking 7 days prior to surgery
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The Day Surgery department will call you the night before your surgery to let you know what time to arrive. You will be asked to come to the hospital at least two hours before your scheduled surgery time. As a general rule, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. Most often you can take your routine medications with a sip of water. Medication guidelines will be discussed at your pre-operative visit.
You may also be instructed to complete a gentle bowel prep to clean out your bowels prior to surgery. This should be done starting the day before surgery.
You should plan to stay overnight in the hospital at least one night. This surgery may require a multiple night stay. Please leave all valuables at home and wear comfortable clothing.
Medications on Discharge
Common medications you may be prescribed on discharge:
Steroids (prednisone, hydrocortisone): The adrenal gland is responsible for secreting a steroid called cortisol. Cortisol is released by the body in response to stress. Steroids are sometimes needed after an adrenal gland is removed.
Blood Pressure Medications: Your blood pressure medications may be changed or stopped after your surgery. The removal of an adrenal gland may alter the hormones secreted by your adrenal gland that regulate blood pressure. You may not require the same amount of medication that you took before surgery.
Approximately 1-2 weeks following surgery, you will return to clinic to meet with your surgeon. At this time you will also meet with a nurse or nurse practitioner who will review instructions regarding caring for your wound and other post-operative issues. Your medications will be slowly adjusted; your surgeon, endocrinologist and primary care physician will manage this.
Questions you may have regarding your surgery:
What is the recovery like?
You should expect to return to work within 1-2 weeks. Typically recovery from surgery is short and pain is minimal. The most common complaint following surgery is fatigue, which usually resolves within a week or two. Some also experience generalized body aches and pains which resolve after a day or two.
When can I go back to work?
You may return to work when you feel you are able. Some people will go back after a few days and some take up to two weeks.
What activities can I do?
You may resume your normal activities after surgery. You should avoid heavy lifting over 10 pounds for 6 weeks after surgery. You may feel more tired than usual which should resolve in a reasonable time after surgery. Light activity, like walking, is encouraged to help speed up recovery.
How do I take care of the dressing over my incision?
Typically, Steri-Strips are placed over the wound. These are small strips of white tape which help to protect the incision. The Steri-Strips should remain intact for about 7-10 days. The internal stitches are dissolvable.
When can I shower?
You may shower 48 hours after surgery. We recommend that you leave the Steri-Strips intact while you shower and lightly dry them off with a towel when you are finished. You should avoid swimming, baths and hot tubs for at least 2 weeks following surgery.
What can I take for pain?
When you are discharged home from the hospital, you will receive a prescription for a pain medication. Do not take pain medication and Tylenol together. The pain medication contains Tylenol. If you wish, you may take ibuprofen, but no sooner than 5 days after surgery.
What will the scar look like?
Most scars will become soft, flat white lines over time. Depending on the type of surgery you have (laparoscopic or open), will determine which kind of scar you will have. This will be discussed in great detail with your surgeon at your pre-operative consultation.
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