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Adrenal Vein Sampling


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Primary aldosteronism, or Conn’s syndrome, is a condition that causes your adrenal glands to produce too much aldosterone. Excess aldosterone, or hyperaldosteronism, can cause issues like high blood pressure and electrolyte imbalance. These conditions increase your risk for stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.

Adrenal vein sampling is a minimally invasive procedure used to determine if one or both of your adrenal glands are making extra aldosterone. If only one gland is producing extra aldosterone, the gland can be removed surgically. If both glands are producing extra aldosterone, surgery will not treat the problem, but medication can help. Adrenal vein sampling is done to make sure that you receive the proper treatment for your condition.

During adrenal vein sampling, your interventional radiologist will use a narrow tube called a catheter to take blood samples from each adrenal gland. Lab values from the blood samples will help decide whether one or both adrenal glands are involved.

Your endocrinologist or endocrine surgeon can then discuss treatment options with you. We work with them to ensure you receive the best care possible.

The University of Miami Health System’s interventional radiology program offers comprehensive care for adrenal gland disorders, including adrenal vein sampling, surgery, and ongoing care for these conditions. Physicians on this team include interventional radiologists, endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, nephrologists, and cardiologists.

Who is a Candidate?

Our experts use adrenal vein sampling for patients with primary aldosteronism.

What to Expect

Adrenal vein sampling is a minimally invasive procedure, allowing patients to go home the same day as their test. However, this procedure can take up to half a day, including preparation and recovery.

Before the procedure

In the days before your adrenal vein sampling, your physician may recommend stopping certain medications. You will also not be allowed to eat or drink on the morning of your procedure.

You’ll receive a sedative intravenously (IV) before your procedure to help you relax. Depending on your condition, you may receive other medication to help stimulate your adrenal glands. Your care team will apply a local anesthetic around your groin before the procedure to keep you from feeling any discomfort.

During the procedure

Your physician will insert a minimally invasive catheter into one of your veins using guidance with an ultrasound machine. They will insert a contrast solution and use an X-ray to guide the catheter to your adrenal veins. They will take blood samples from each of your two adrenal glands and then remove the catheter. The samples are hand delivered to the laboratory and followed closely for results.

The procedure takes 1-3 hours to complete.

After the procedure

After your procedure, your care team will monitor your vital signs, including your heart rate and blood pressure. You will stay in a recovery room to let you rest until your sedative has worn off. Once you can get up and move, someone else can drive you home.

You’ll likely need to rest for around 24 hours after the procedure, including drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding any heavy lifting or intense activity.

You may have minor pain or bruising at the catheter insertion site and can apply pressure to ease discomfort.

Your interventional radiologist will share the results with your referring physician. Your referring physician will follow up with you after the procedure. If you need an endocrinologist or an endocrine surgeon to help evaluate results and direct treatment, our multidisciplinary adrenal treatment center is equipped to help you.

Why Choose UHealth?

Customized treatment plans for adrenal gland problems. Hormone imbalances, including from the adrenal gland, can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, and metabolic concerns. We take a comprehensive treatment approach to care for your adrenal gland disorder, including designing a personalized treatment plan to lower your risk factors, minimize symptoms, and help you feel better.

Expert care from highly trained interventional radiologists. Our interventional radiologists and radiology specialists are experts in a variety of minimally invasive procedures — including treatments to remove blood clots and open arteries. Our team excels at performing procedures throughout the body and supporting patients with adrenal conditions.

Cutting-edge imaging care in South Florida. Our doctors are also researchers discovering new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment. That means you can get some of today’s most promising advancements through clinical trials. You benefit from the latest developments that are fast-tracked from the lab to the bedside.

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