, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 183-193
Date: 03 Jan 2013

Clinical Experience with Pheochromocytoma in a Single Centre Over 16 Years

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Background: Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma are rare tumours of neuroectodermal origin. Pheochromocytoma occurs in 0.1–2% of people with hypertension, while the incidence rises to 4–5% in patients with incidental adrenal mass.

Aim: To analyse the presentation, diagnosis and localization, pathology, molecular genetic aspects, surgical management and long-term outcome of a large series of patients with pheochromocytoma referred to a single centre.

Methods: From 1992 to 2008, we observed 91 patients with pheochromocytoma, 70 (77%) with the sporadic form and 21 (23%) with the hereditary form. In the group with the hereditary form, the mean age at diagnosis was significantly lower than the mean age of the group with the sporadic form (38 vs 48 years; p < 0.001).

Results: Eighty (88%) patients with pheochromocytoma were symptomatic and the classical triad of palpitations, headache and diaphoresis was present in 30% of patients. In 12% of patients, the pheochromocytoma was discovered during radiological images (adrenal incidentaloma). The unilateral adrenal localization was observed in 78% of patients, bilateral in 15% and extra-adrenal in 7% of patients. All pheochromocytoma patients underwent surgical procedure and the laparotomic approach was used in 49 (53%) patients, while the laparoscopic approach was performed in 42 (47%) patients. Pheochromocytoma was benign in 86 patients (93%) [mean size was 4.3 cm] and the malignant form was found in five patients (7%) [mean size was 10 cm].

Conclusions: These data from a large cohort of patients are consistent with those reported in the literature and show that pheochromocytoma is an in important challenge for clinicians.