[Diagnostic problems in pheochromocytoma].


Pheochromocytoma is mainly characterized by a great deal of variability in its biological activity and in its clinical manifestations. This special feature has always to be taken into account in any diagnostic procedure. The tumor is generally suspected on clinical ground for the presence of paroxysmal hypertension but this sign is largely aspecific and often absent. The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma has to be based on laboratory tests demonstrating an excess and/or a disregulation in catecholamine (CA) secretion. CA or CA metabolites can be measured in urine or blood. Whatever the sample measured, it is important to correlate its result with the clinical picture found during its collection. Basal plasma CA concentrations are often raised also during periods of normotension but their accuracy is the highest in samples drawn during a hypertensive crisis. When basal measurements are insufficient for a final diagnosis, inhibitory (clonidine) or stimulatory (glucagon) tests can be performed. Clonidine test is recommended in patients showing slight increases in basal plasma CA. Glucagon stimulation test should be performed only in normotensive patients with an incidental adrenal mass, patients with sporadic hypertensive crises or members of families affected by MEN II. Localization procedures are mainly based on CT (or MRI) and on scintigraphy with I131-MIBG. CT possesses high sensitivity (about 96%) while I131-MIBG scintigraphy possesses a very high specificity (about 97%). Therefore, both the procedures should be performed before surgery. Rarely, it is also necessary to perform catheterization of the venous tree and plasma sampling for CA measurement to localize the tumor through the discovery of a secretory gradient.


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@article{Mannelli1989DiagnosticPI, title={[Diagnostic problems in pheochromocytoma].}, author={Massimo Mannelli and Cinzia Pupilli and Roberto Lanzillotti and Lucia Ianni and Francesco Bellini}, journal={Journal of endocrinological investigation}, year={1989}, volume={12 10}, pages={739-57} }