About the Adrenal Glands

The adrenal glands are endocrine glands that secrete important hormones in the human body.

They are located on top of each kidney. As part of the overall endocrine system, the adrenal glands play a part in regulating metabolism, mood, growth and development and tissue function.

The adrenal glands are made up of two distinct areas.

  • Adrenal medulla - The adrenal medulla is the center core of the adrenal glands. It is responsible for producing the body's main source of adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones. These trigger a person's fight-or-flight response.
  • Adrenal cortex - The adrenal cortex is the outer layer of the adrenal gland. It mediates a person's stress response through the production of hormones including cortisol.

Diseases of the Adrenal Glands

Some times a person's adrenal glands can have tumors or masses. The tumors can be either benign or malignant. Either way, doctors often recommend that they be removed because tumors can cause the adrenal glands to excrete excessive amounts of one or more hormones which can disrupt normal functioning of the body or aggravate other conditions.

Adrenal Disease

Following are some diseases of the adrenal glands:

  • Addison's Disease¬†- Addison's disease (also called adrenal insufficiency or hypocortisolism) is a hormone deficiency caused by damage to the adrenal cortex.
  • Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia - Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia is an adrenal insufficiency. It is caused by a genetic defect that affects the adrenal glands ability to produce vital hormones.
  • Conn's Syndrome - Conn's syndrome is caused when the adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone. This overproduction can be caused by a tumor or enlargement of the adrenal glands.
  • Cushing Syndrome - Cushing syndrome is a disease that occurs when your body produces too much of the hormone cortisol. The can be caused by the use of prednisone for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory diseases, or immunosuppression after transplantation.
  • Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome - Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome is the name for adrenal gland failure caused by bleeding of the adrenal gland.

Treatments Provided for Adrenal Disease

by Arizona Transplant Associates

Doctors Cashman, Brink, Fabrega, Van der Werf and Chaly offer the following adrenal gland procedures:

  • Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy - During a laparoscopic adrenalectomy, tumors can be removed from the adrenal glands without opening a person's abdomen. With laparoscopy, an adrenalectomy can be accomplished through four very small incisions.


American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), www.aace.com
Endocrine Society, www.endo-society.org
The Hormone Foundation, www.hormone.org
National Adrenal Diseases Foundation, www.nadf.us

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