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What Is Adenoma Surgery?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Adenoma surgery is a surgery that removes a benign growth from the body, which in the case of a pituitary adenoma, is performed through the nose using an endoscope. Depending on the location of the adenoma, the surgery is performed differently, but the pituitary adenoma is the most difficult because it involves going into the brain. Other types of adenoma, such as an adrenal adenoma, can be removed more easily because of the location of the growth.

An adenoma is a benign growth that grows from glandular cells. While they are not cancerous, they can still cause problems when left untreated. Adenomas can secrete hormones into the body; for example, some secrete growth hormones that can cause acromegaly or giantism. Pituitary adenomas are usually prolactinomas, secreting hormones that cause irregular periods for women, erectile dysfunction and decreased libido in men, and milk secretion in both.

Typically, secretory adenomas are the ones that require surgery because they can cause the most problems. Non-secretory tumors under 2/5 of an inch (1 cm) in diameter can usually be managed with medication alone. If they get larger, they can press on other vital parts of the body, especially when the adenoma is in the brain. Adenoma surgery aims to remove secretory or large non-secretory adenomas from the body.

Pituitary adenomas are removed in a process referred to as transsphenoidal surgery. This surgery involves the surgeon entering the patient’s brain through the sphenoidal opening, which is an opening located behind the nose. Surgeons use endoscopes, which are thin tubes with a camera attached, to go up into the nose and locate the sphenoid sinus. Other tools are used to open the sphenoid sinus so the tumor can be hollowed out and removed. Unfortunately pituitary adenoma surgery can be difficult, because the tumor may have grown into the cavernous sinus, which is too risky an area to attempt to remove the tumor from.

Adenoma surgery can also occur in other parts of the body where adenomas are found, such as the adrenal glands. The treatment for this type of adenoma is an adrenalectomy. This adenoma surgery simply removes the affected part of the adrenal gland. Again, only hormone-secreting adenomas are usually candidates for surgery, and any non-secreting adenomas around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in size are usually monitored with scans to make sure they aren’t growing. Keyhole adrenal adenoma surgery can also be performed in some hospitals.

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