The adrenal glands consist of the adrenal medulla and adrenal cortex. The adrenal cortex produces mineralocorticoids (aldosterone), glucocorticoids (cortisol and cortisone,) and sex hormones. The adrenal medulla produces epinephrine and norepinephrine, the catecholamines.
Tumors can be benign or malignant (in which the prognosis is poor), hormonally active or hormonally inactive.
When the adrenal glands become tumorous, the symptoms depend on the part (marrow or cortex) that degenerates. In either case, the degenerate part produces too much of the corresponding hormones.
Usually only one of the two adrenal glands degenerates. If there is an adrenal cortical tumor, the typical symptoms of hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) develop (excessive thirst, increased urine production, pronounced hunger, hair loss along the back and tail, reduction in testicle size in males, muscle weakness, and an increase in abdominal circumference). If a tumor of the adrenal gland medulla is present, animals often show generalized weakness, panting, increased heart rate, and hypertension.
Diagnosis of an adrenal gland is made by an ultrasound examination and biopsy.
For precise surgical planning, a CT scan is necessary. This scan provides information about the exact nature of the tumor, whether metastases have already formed, and whether the tumor has already penetrated the nearby vessels. A detailed laboratory analysis is necessary to determine the condition of the animal. Removal of the tumors often requires surgery. After the operation, intensive monitoring of the patient is necessary as it can lead to circulatory problems and electrolyte shifts.
Please contact a veterinarian in case that:
- Your dog damages the suture or incision.
- You notice changes in the wound from the operation.
- Your pet’s general condition appears to worsen.