Pheochromocytoma in patients suspected of harboring adrenal metastasis: Management and clinical predictors

Academic Article


  • Objective: To study clinical management of patients with suspected adrenal metastasis and to assess whether there are clinical predictors of pheochromocytoma in this patient population. Methods: In this retrospective cross-sectional study, we reviewed medical records of patients who had adrenalectomy for adrenal lesions or had adrenal biopsy performed between January 1997 and July 2007 in a large academic hospital. Patients who harbored adrenal masses that were suspected of being metastases were identified on clinical findings. Pathologic diagnosis, demographic data, clinical history, imaging studies, and laboratory test results were reviewed and compared among patients whose adrenal mass was determined to be metastasis, adenoma, or pheochromocytoma. Results: One-hundred sixty-three patients had adrenalectomy or had adrenal biopsy during the study period. Thirty patients (18%) had adrenal masses that were suspected of being metastases. Of the adrenal masses, 18 (60%) were metastases, 8 (27%) were benign adenomas, and 4 (13%) were pheochromocytomas. Eleven patients (37%) had biochemical testing for pheochromocytoma. Adrenal biopsy was performed without biochemical testing for pheochromocytoma in 9 patients (30%), including 2 subsequently found to have this tumor. Adrenalectomy was performed in 10 patients (33%) without biochemical testing for pheochromocytoma. Clinical parameters were similar among patients with metastasis, adenoma, or pheochromocytoma. There were no clinical predictors to suggest pheochromocytoma. Conclusions: Pheochromocytoma occurs frequently in patients suspected of harboring adrenal metastasis, but this tumor is often not considered in clinical practice. The size and imaging characteristics of the adrenal mass and history of known metastasis may help clinicians in decision-making. Biochemical testing for pheochromocytoma should ideally be performed in all patients suspected of having adrenal metastasis. © 2008 AACE.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Endocrine Practice  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yu R; Nissen NN; Dhall D; Wei M
  • Start Page

  • 967
  • End Page

  • 972
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 8