Adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are two small triangle-shaped glands. One gland is located on top of each kidney.

Each adrenal gland is about the size of the top part of the thumb. The outer part of the gland is called the cortex. It produces steroid hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone, and hormones that can be changed into testosterone. The inner part of the gland is called the medulla. It produces epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are also called adrenaline and noradrenaline.

When the glands produce more or less hormones than normal, you can become sick. This might happen at birth or later in life.

The adrenal glands can be affected by many diseases, such as autoimmune disorders, infections, tumors, and bleeding.

The pituitary, a small gland at the bottom of the brain, releases a hormone called ACTH that is important in stimulating the adrenal cortex.

Conditions related to adrenal gland problems include:

Endocrine glands

Endocrine glands release hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream to be transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood. The thyroid gets instructions from the pituitary to secrete hormones which determine the rate of metabolism in the body (the more hormone in the bloodstream, the faster the chemical activity; the less hormone, the slower the activity).

Adrenal glands

Triangular-shaped glands located on top of the kidneys. They produce steroid hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol, and precursor sex steroids that can be converted into estrogen and testosterone. They also produce the hormones adrenalin (epinephrine) and noradrenalin (norepinephrine).

Adrenal gland biopsy

The adrenal glands are endocrine glands which are located immediately on top of the kidneys. During an adrenal biopsy, a small sample of tissue is removed and sent to the pathologist for testing. The biopsy can be performed when a suspicious mass or tumor is found on one or both of the adrenal glands.