Surgical approach to patients with primary aldosteronism
Primary hyperaldosteronism (PA) is one of the most common causes of hypertension that is amenable to surgical cure. Once a patient has a biochemical diagnosis of PA, workup should proceed with tumor lateralization to determine whether the patient has unilateral or bilateral disease. Tumor lateralization can be done with noninvasive imaging such as a CT or MRI. However, in older patients or in patients with non-lateralizing imaging, arteriovenous sampling (AVS) should be considered. If the patient has confirmed unilateral disease, options for surgical intervention include laparoscopic or, less commonly, open. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy for PA has been shown to be a safe and effective procedure that is associated with less morbidity compared to open adrenalectomy. Patients can either undergo a laparoscopic transabdominal adrenalectomy via a lateral (most common) or anterior approach or a retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy via a posterior approach. The majority of patients have complete biochemical success, defined as normalization of plasma aldosterone, renin and potassium levels and appropriate suppression with stimulation tests. Less than half of patients have complete clinical success, defined as normotensive with no antihypertensive medications. However, the majority of patients who do not have complete clinical success will have some improvement in their blood pressure and/or are able to decrease the number of antihypertensive medications that they require.