Phaeochromocytomas (PCCs) are tumours that synthesize, store and secrete catecholamines and arise from chromaffin cells of adrenal medulla and extra-adrenal sympathetic ganglia cells. Embryologically, the paraganglia system originates from the neural crest cells, which can differentiate and migrate to form the adrenal medullary chromaffin cells, autonomic ganglion cells and extra-adrenal paraganglionic cells. These cells belong to the amine precursor uptake decarboxylase (APUD) cells. Phaeochromocytoma derives its name from phaios (dusky), chroma (colour) and cytoma (tumour). The term phaeochromocytoma was coined by Pick in 1912. Fränkel was first to report a phaeochromocytoma during autopsy in 1886. The first successful operations for phaeochromocytomas were first reported in 1926 by Cesar Roux in Lausanne, Switzerland, and C.H. Mayo in the United States; but in neither case was the diagnosis established before the operation.
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