Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Provider photo for Ninad Dabadghav

Ninad Dabadghav, MD

Surgery: General

Welcome to My Doctor Online, a web site that my colleagues and I developed to make it easier for you to take care of your healthcare needs. On this site you will find answers to many of your questions about my clinical practice. Also included are several online features that will allow you to e-mail me, check your laboratory results and refill prescriptions. I hope you find its content informative and useful.

My Offices

Santa Clara Homestead
Appt/Advice: 1-408-851-2000

See all office information »

subContentURL_nobackslash = resources/dc/condition

firstActiveTabUrlFragment = resources/dc/conditionlist

subContentURL_nobackslash = resources/dc/condition

JSP2Include = /mdo/presentation/conditions/condition.jsp?nocache=true


Adrenal surgery is used to remove adrenal glands that contain growths (nodules).

There are 2 adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that regulate: 

  • Metabolism
  • Response to stress 
  • Salt and water balance 

Most nodules are small and noncancerous (benign). They usually don’t cause symptoms.  

In rare cases, adrenal nodules can cause problems. Surgery is used to treat nodules that:

  • Are large or more than 4 cm. 
  • Produce hormones that cause health problems (the nodules are called “functioning adrenal adenomas”).
  • Are cancerous (malignant). 

We remove the adrenal gland with the nodule during surgery.


There are 4 main types of adrenal gland nodules. 

Adrenal incidentalomas are most common. They usually don’t cause symptoms or need treatment. The nodules are usually found after a CT scan is performed for another reason. 

Functioning adrenal adenomas make hormones that can cause problems. We recommend the removal of the adrenal gland that contains the adenoma, as long as you are able to have surgery.

Adrenal carcinomas are a rare type of cancer. Some produce hormones and some don’t. 

Pheochromocytoma is a rare type of tumor that makes too many hormones. About 10 percent are cancerous (malignant). The excess hormones can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches 
  • Anxiety 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Other symptoms 


A nodule that does not produce hormones will not usually cause symptoms. 

A functioning nodule produces hormones that can cause symptoms, such as: 

  • Changes in face and body shape 
  • Acne 
  • Unexplained weight change
  • High blood pressure 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Diabetes 
  • Increase in body hair in women 

You might also have:

  • Episodic headaches 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Anxiety 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Abnormal fatigue 
  • Sexual dysfunction 


Tests help us learn if the adrenal glands are making too many hormones, including: 

  • Blood and urine tests, which show the amount of hormones produced. 
  • A blood test, which is done the morning after you take a medication the night before. 
  • Venous sampling studies, which are performed by a specially trained doctor (interventional radiologist).

If we find too many hormones, we usually order a CT scan to identify the gland making the hormones. You might also need to have a nuclear medicine scan.

We may use CT scans to monitor an adrenal nodule that isn’t producing too much hormones. We may recommend removing the nodule if it grows.


Most adrenal nodules don’t cause problems or need treatment.

We may recommend removing the nodule and gland if a tumor:

  • Produces too many hormones. 
  • Is very large.
  • Grows.

Before having surgery, we must treat rare adrenal nodules (called pheochromocytomas). They produce hormones that cause high blood pressure. 

We give you medicine a few weeks before surgery. The medicine blocks the effects of these hormones. 

Methods of Surgery

The most common type of adrenal surgery is laparoscopic adrenalectomy. During surgery, we:

  • Make several small cuts in the abdomen. 
  • Place small tools and a tiny camera into the cuts.
  • Remove the adrenal gland through the cuts. 

We might use hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery (HALS) instead. HALS uses special devices that let us insert a hand inside the abdomen through a 2-inch incision. This makes it easier to remove larger tumors. 

Open surgery may be needed to remove large adrenal nodules. We make a larger incision in the abdomen. 

Posterior approach is a type of open surgery. It allows us to reach the adrenal gland through an incision in your back. We remove a rib to reach the gland. 

After Your Surgery

After surgery, most people:

  • Go home within 1 or 2 days, depending on the type of surgery. 
  • Return to regular activities after 1 to 2 weeks.

You may need medicine (steroids) to replace hormones previously produced by the adrenal gland. 

Your remaining gland will eventually make more hormones. If not, you’ll need to keep taking the medicine.

Treatment of cancerous nodules

You may need more treatment if the adrenal nodule is cancerous and has spread to other organs. 

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used to treat the cancer after surgery. 


As with any surgery, adrenal surgery has risks. Possible complications are:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection 
  • Injury to other organs

The risk of developing complications is low. 

Lifestyle Management

After your surgery, we: 

  • Schedule follow-up exams. 
  • May order imaging scans.
  • May order blood and urine tests. 

If both adrenal glands are removed: 

  • You’ll likely need to take hormone replacement medicines for the rest of your life. 
  • We recommend that you wear a MedicAlert bracelet at all times. 

It’s important that you:

  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight. 
  • Avoid smoking. 
  • Get regular, moderate exercise to gradually regain energy and strength. 

Your Care with Me

If you are having symptoms that concern you, your first contact will typically be with your personal physician, who will evaluate your health and symptoms. If specialty care is needed, your personal physician will facilitate the process of scheduling an appointment in my department. If appropriate, she or he might call me or one of my colleagues while you are in the office so we can all discuss your care together. If we decide you need an appointment with me after that discussion, we can often schedule it the same day.

When You See Me

During your office visit, we will discuss your medical and family history and I will perform a physical exam. I will explain the findings of your exam and answer any questions or concerns you may have. We will discuss treatment options based on the findings.

Lab resources

We will also discuss the results of any tests ordered by your personal physician. If further tests are needed I will use our electronic medical record system to send the requisition to the Kaiser Permanente laboratory of your choice.

  • When the results are ready, you can view most of them online, along with any comments that I have attached to explain them.
  • If your results are normal, I will also send the results in the mail.
  • If they are outside the normal range, I will call you to discuss the results.
Pharmacy resources

If medications are warranted, I will prescribe them and work with you to minimize side effects. If refills are indicated in the future, you can order them online from my home page or by phone using the pharmacy refill number on your prescription label.

  • You can also arrange to have your refill mailed to you at no extra cost. If no refills remain when you place your order, the pharmacy will contact me regarding your prescription.
  • You can choose to pick up your medications at the pharmacy or have them delivered by mail at no extra cost.
After Visit Summary

At the end of our visit, you will receive a document called the After Visit Summary that will summarize the issues we discussed during your visit. You can also view it online from this site.  The online version is called Past Visits.

  • This summary includes my name and the date and time of your visit, your vital signs, my test orders and your medications or immunizations.
  • It often includes the instructions I have given you during our visit and follow-up information.
  • You can refer to your After Visit Summary if you forget what we discussed, or if you just want to recheck your vital signs and weight.
Coordinating your care

Having all of our Kaiser Permanente departments located together or nearby, including pharmacy, laboratory, radiology and health education, makes getting your care easier for you. Another major benefit is our comprehensive electronic medical record system in which all of the doctors and clinicians involved in your care can stay connected on your health status and collaborate with each other as appropriate. When every member of the health care team is aware of all aspects of your condition, care is safer and more effective.

Preparing for Surgery

If surgery is indicated, I will ask you to review an online educational program called Preparing for Your Procedure (Emmi). This online program is available on this site. It will help you decide whether surgery is right for you. It will also provide information about how to prepare and what to expect.

If we proceed with surgery, I will have my Surgery Scheduler contact you to determine a surgery date and provide you with additional instructions regarding your procedure. Once your surgery is scheduled, a medical colleague of mine will contact you to conduct a pre-operative medical evaluation that will assure that you are properly prepared for your surgery.

Contacting Me

If you need to talk with me after your visit or procedure, please call my office. You can also e-mail me with nonurgent issues from this website whenever it is convenient for you.

If you have urgent concerns or issues while my office is closed, or need general medical advice, you can call the Appointment and Advice line, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will be connected with a nurse who can give you immediate advice.

If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

Related Health Tools:

Prepare for Your Procedure

See more Health Tools »

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

Content loading spinner