Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the usefulness of laparoscopic ultrasound (LUS) during laparoscopic adrenalectomy (LA) and to define the ultrasound imaging characteristics of various adrenal tumors. Methods: LUS was utilized in 27 patients who underwent LA (including one bilateral adrenalectomy) from May 1994 to October 1998. Tumor size ranged from 1.0 to 5.5 cm (mean 3.3 cm), and a transabdominal lateral approach to LA was used. Results: LUS localized the adrenal gland and tumor in all 28 adrenalectomies and demonstrated the relationship of the tumor to the kidney and adjacent vascular structures (renal artery/vein and inferior vena cava). The adrenal vein was visualized sonographically in only six cases (21%). Pheochromocytomas were mild to markedly heterogenous, whereas most aldosteronomas and cortical adenomas were homogenous. LUS provided useful information to the surgeon in 11 of 28 cases (39%) by: 1) localizing the adrenal gland and tumor and/or guiding the dissection; 2) demonstrating that tumors ≥4 cm were confined to the adrenal gland; and 3) investigating suspected pathology in other organs. Mean operating time for LUS was 10.9 min (range 5 to 24 min) and calculated hospital charges were $602. Conclusions: LUS accurately localizes adrenal tumors, helps define their relationship to adjacent structures, and provides confirmation that larger tumors are amenable to laparoscopic resection. LUS is a useful adjunct to laparoscopic adrenalectomy in selected patients. Copyright (C) 1999 Excerpta Medica Inc.