Challenges in the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma syndrome.

OBJECTIVES: Adrenal pheochromocytomas are rare neuroendocrine tumours, however their prevalence is probably underestimated - in some series 50% were diagnosed at autopsy. The clinical presentation varies among patients, that is why diagnosis might be difficult to establish. Pheochromocytoma may coexist with paraganglioma and when paraganglioma is diagnosed, the patient should be screened for pheochromocytoma too, especially in people with hypertension. We present a case of woman with pheochromocytoma, but diagnosed after incidence of stroke, who had also paraganglioma in the past. Additionally, a teratoma was diagnosed simultaneously.

CASE REPORT: 49-year old woman with hypertension was referred to the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Isotope Therapy in Wrocław with suspected pheochromocytoma. She was operated twice because of paraganglioma of the right and left carotid artery, second operation was complicated with stroke. After administration of anticoagulants a bleeding from gastrointestinal tract occurred. During diagnostic process CT of the abdomen showed tumour in the right adrenal gland and a tumour in pelvis. Significantly elevated catecholamines and their metabolites in blood and urine confirmed the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. Both tumours were removed surgically, the second was teratoma maturum. Genetic screening for hereditary pheochromocytoma was proceeded. A mutation in SDHD gene was revealed in patient's DNA and subsequently in blood samples of her sister and daughter.

CONCLUSIONS: Occurrence of paraganglioma with hypertension suggest need of screening for pheochromocytoma-paraganglioma syndrome, especially in case of paragangliomas in family history. Early treatment is crucial to avoid life-threatening cardiovascular complications. The association between pheochromocytoma and teratoma is unclear.

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