Background. Few controlled studies have compared laparoscopic transabdominal adrenalectomy (LA) to conventional open posterior adrenalectomy (PA). Methods. Fifty patients have undergone successful LA at our institution between 1992 and 1996. A matched case-control study of 50 PA patients was performed during a similar time period. Results. Follow-up was complete in 82% of patients with a mean follow-up time of 25 months. There were no statistically significant differences between the LA and PA groups with regard to the following demographic features: age, gender, endocrine disorder, side and size of tumor, and body habitus. Statistically significant differences (p < 0.05), however, were present (LA vs PA) when we compared the following results: mean hospital stay (3.1 versus 5.7 days), narcotic equivalents (28 versus 48), return to normal activity (3.8 versus 7 weeks), patient satisfaction (9 versus 7 [scale 1 to 10, 10 being most satisfied]), late morbidity (0 versus 54 %), and operating room time (167 versus 127 minutes). Median hospital charges ($7,000 versus $6,000) were slightly higher in the LA group (p = 0.05). Conclusions. Although LA is technically more demanding and slightly more expensive to perform, advantages appear to exist for LA with regard to patient comfort, patient satisfaction, hospital stay, and return to normal daily activities. Late incisional complications are dramatically less in the LA group.
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