Neurocritical Care

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 378–381

Cerebrovascular Manifestations of Pheochromocytoma and the Implications of a Missed Diagnosis

Practical Pearl

DOI: 10.1007/s12028-008-9105-8

Cite this article as:
Majic, T. & Aiyagari, V. Neurocrit Care (2008) 9: 378. doi:10.1007/s12028-008-9105-8


Background and Purpose

Cerebrovascular complications are a rare manifestation of pheochromocytoma. We report a case of pheochromocytoma presenting initially with reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy and subsequently a cerebral infarction.

Summary of Case

A patient with a prior history of episodic hypertension and reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy presented with headache, palpitations, and weakness of the right leg. A magnetic resonance angiogram revealed narrowing of the basilar and right middle cerebral artery. She was diagnosed as having presumed vasculitis and underwent a conventional cerebral angiogram during which she developed a hypertensive crisis and worsening neurological deficit. Further investigations revealed the presence of a pheochromocytoma, which was subsequently resected.


It is important to be cognizant of the possibility of pheochromocytoma in patients presenting with hypertension and cerebrovascular manifestations, as commonly used investigations (e.g. catheter angiography) and treatment modalities (e.g. β-blockers to treat hypertension, corticosteroids to treat suspected vasculitis, etc.) can lead to life threatening complications.


Pheochromocytoma Cerebral vasospasm Hypertension Stroke 

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology and RehabilitationUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurology and RehabilitationUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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