High perioperative morbidity and mortality in patients with malignant nonfunctional adrenal tumors

Andrea R. Marcadis, Gustavo A. Rubio, Zahra F. Khan, Josefina C. Farra, John Lew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background Both functional (hormone hypersecreting) and nonfunctional (nonhypersecreting) adrenal tumors can have benign or malignant pathology. This study compares perioperative in-hospital outcomes after adrenalectomy in patients with benign versus malignant nonfunctional primary adrenal tumors. Methods A retrospective cross-sectional analysis was performed using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database (2006-2011) to identify patients who underwent unilateral open or laparoscopic adrenalectomy for nonfunctional primary adrenal tumors. Patients were subdivided by benign and malignant final pathology. Demographics, comorbidities, and perioperative complications were compared between groups using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression. Results Of 23,297 patients, 89.7% (n = 20,897) had benign tumors, whereas 10.3% (n = 2400) had malignant tumors. Those with malignant tumors had higher Charlson Comorbidity Index scores and were more likely to undergo adrenalectomy at high volume centers. For both laparoscopic and open approach, patients with malignant nonfunctional tumors had higher rates of intraoperative complications including vascular and splenic injury (P < 0.01), as well as postoperative complications including hematoma, shock, acute kidney injury, venous thromboembolism, and pneumothorax (P < 0.01). In addition, the malignant group had higher rates of blood transfusions, longer hospital stay, and higher in-hospital mortality (P < 0.05) than benign counterparts. On risk-adjusted multivariate analysis, malignant nonfunctional primary adrenal tumors were independently associated with increased risk of complications following adrenalectomy. Conclusions Patients with malignant nonfunctional primary adrenal tumors have higher perioperative morbidity and mortality compared to patients with benign nonfunctional adrenal tumors. Such patients should be medically optimized before adrenalectomy, and surgeons must remain vigilant in preventing perioperative complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Adrenal adenoma
  • Adrenocortical carcinoma
  • Nonfunctional
  • Outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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