, Volume 398, Issue 5, pp 729-733
Date: 19 Dec 2012

Pheochromocytoma revealed by acute heart failure. When should we operate? Presented at the ESES Congress, Gothenburg May 25–26, 2012

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The aim of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of adrenalectomy on patients with pheochromocytoma diagnosed at the time of an acute heart failure (AHF).


We reported cases of patients who presented an AHF secondary to a pheochromocytoma during a period of 10 years. The diagnosis of AHF was defined by a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 30 % or the use of circulatory assistance. They had adrenalectomy as emergency surgery or later. Morbidity and mortality of surgery were studied.


Thirteen patients required an adrenalectomy for AHF secondary to pheochromocytoma. Four patients (31 %) had an adrenalectomy in emergency. Nine patients (69 %) had a delayed surgery with a median delay of 25 days (7–180). Eight patients had circulatory assistance (61 %). Five of them had a circulatory assistance and a delayed surgery (38 %), two of them had a circulatory assistance followed by emergency surgery (at 1.5 and 3 days) and one had emergency surgery immediately followed by circulatory assistance. Emergency surgery was performed by laparotomy in all cases and delayed surgery by laparoscopy for seven patients (54 %). Perioperative complications consisted in: one circulatory arrest, two bleedings requiring transfusion, one intestinal ischaemia, one haemoperitoneum with re-operation (day 8). One patient died on day 5. Post-operative course of patients with delayed surgery was uneventful.


AHF revealing a pheochromocytoma is a rare and serious event. Patients with emergency surgery have more complications than those with delayed surgery.