Disorders of the adrenal glands are often the result of over production of the carious hormones described above. Medications can sometimes control the excess hormone release, but most often surgery is the only cure.
These tumors produce too much catecholamines resulting in dangerously high blood pressure which can often lead to stroke, heart attacks, and even death if left untreated. Removal of these tumors can be life-saving and prevents devastating complications. Although they can be difficult to diagnose, patients often present with flushing, palpitations, and high blood pressure. These tumors can have malignant potential and patients require lifelong monitoring once diagnosed and treated.
These tumors produce too much aldosterone, often resulting in high blood pressure. Patients are usually on several medications with increasing doses to control their blood pressure. Patients are frequently found to have low potassium because aldosterone directly affects the body’s salt and water balance. As a result, patients can complain of muscle cramps and weakness. These tumors are benign and once removed, can result in significant improvement in blood pressure. These tumors can also be small and often adrenal venous sampling is required to help determine the side of the aldosteronoma.
Cushing’s syndrome is an overproduction of cortisol, the body’s primary intrinsic steroid, and can result in a host of problems. Prolong exposure to cortisol may cause weight gain, acne, thinning hair, and easy bruising. Diabetes, increased susceptibility to infection, and brittle bones are additional complications. Over production of cortisol can be associated with both benign and malignant conditions of the adrenal gland.
Patients are often found to have incidental growths on their adrenal glands from imaging studies done for other reasons. These incidentalomas are most often found on CT and MRI scans. The majority of these growths have no clinical significance and are truly incidental. However, it is important that both overproduction of hormones and the possibility of malignancy are excluded. Surgery is only performed if they are found to be producing excess hormone or if they reach a certain size, often 4cm or greater.
Cancer of the adrenal gland is uncommon. It can produce a variety of hormones and often result in the rapid onset of symptoms. Surgery is often the only option for treatment and possible cure. These tumors can be large at the time of diagnosis and require open surgery for removal.
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For more information on treatment options for adrenal disorders or to schedule a consultation, please call 914-681-1010.