The adrenal psoas sign: Surgical outcomes following a simple technique to maximize removal of extracortical adrenal tissue during bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy

Erin W. Gilbert, Vincent L. Harrison, Brett C. Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: Bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy (BLA) is an effective therapy for the management of persistent hypercortisolism in patients after failed transphenoidal pituitary tumor resection for Cushing's disease. Extracortical adrenal tissue has been identified as a source of persistent hypercortisolism and, if not resected along with both adrenal glands, may lead to treatment failure. We report a reliable and reproducible technique called the "psoas sign" for BLA in patients with Cushing's disease which reduces the likelihood of retained extra-adrenal cortical rests and may reduce intraoperative complications. Methods: A 16-year retrospective review of all consecutive patients who underwent transabdominal BLA at a single tertiary care center was performed. All patients underwent BLA utilizing the psoas sign technique and all procedures were performed replicating these predetermined surgical steps: (1) Identification of the inferior pole of the gland. (2) Identification of the inferior aspect of the adreno-caval groove on the right or the adrenal vein/renal vein confluence on the left. (3) Division of the adrenal vein. (4) Dissection and removal of the adrenal gland with clearance of all retroperitoneal fat overlying the psoas muscle. Results: Between October 1996 and December 2012, 92 patients underwent BLA for refractory Cushing's disease. Patients were predominantly female (90 %) with a median age of 40 years (17-71). There were 3 intraoperative complications (3.2 %), 2 conversions (2.2 %), and 1 death (1.09 %). Four patients were identified as having extracortical rests of adrenal tissue within the retroperitoneal fat (4.3 %). Mean operative time was 272 min (±79.25, n = 68) and median estimated blood loss was 50 mL (10-800 mL). Conclusions: The psoas sign technique provides a clear view of the adrenal fossa and facilitates careful dissection of the anatomic planes around the adrenal gland. This technique is feasible, reproducible and in our experience allows for safe removal of both adrenal glands and all surrounding extracortical adrenal tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2666-2670
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014



  • Adrenal
  • Endocrinology
  • Surgical
  • Technical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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