A patient with a large recurrent pheochromocytoma demonstrating the pitfalls of diagnosis

Abstract

Background. A 59-year-old man presented for a follow-up, 6 years after surgery for a large pheochromocytoma. He had suffered from diabetes mellitus, hypertension and abdominal pain in the right flank region. Previous postoperative follow-up did not reveal tumor recurrence.

Investigation. Measurement of plasma free metanephrine and normetanephrine by high-performance liquid chromatography and radioimmunoassay; 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy; hybrid 123I-MIBG single-photon emission CT (SPECT)–CT; MRI; testing for plasma norepinephrine and epinephrine; intraoperative ultrasonography; histological staining for chromogranin A and synaptophysin; and postoperative 18F-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) PET scan.

Diagnosis. Recurrent pheochromocytoma.

Management. Laparotomy with tumor resection. Reduction of antihypertensive medications. Further follow-up by MRI, hybrid 123I-MIBG SPECT–CT and testing for plasma catecholamines and free metanephrines.

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Figure 1: 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy in the case patient.
Figure 2: 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy with single-photon emission CT (SPECT)–CT in the case patient.
Figure 3
Figure 4: Histology and immunhistochemistry of tissue samples taken at the second surgery of the case patient.

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Acknowledgements

Written consent for publication was obtained from the patient.

C. P. Vega, University of California, Irvine, CA, is the author of and is solely responsible for the content of the learning objectives, questions and answers of the Medscape, LLC-accredited continuing medical education activity associated with this article.

Author information

J. Singer, C. A. Koch, G. Eisenhofer, M. Seiwerts, G. Borte, K. Schierle and R. Paschke researched the data for the article. J. Singer, C. A. Koch, W. Kassahun, P. Lamesch, G. Eisenhofer, M. Seiwerts, G. Borte and R. Paschke provided a substantial contribution to discussions of the content. J. Singer, C. A. Koch and R. Paschke wrote the article. All authors reviewed and/or edited the manuscript before submission.

Correspondence to Jörg Singer.

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Singer, J., Koch, C., Kassahun, W. et al. A patient with a large recurrent pheochromocytoma demonstrating the pitfalls of diagnosis. Nat Rev Endocrinol 7, 749–755 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2011.132

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