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Jai Madhok Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Amy Kloosterboer Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Chitra Venkatasubramanian Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, USA

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Frederick G Mihm Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Summary

We report the case of a 76-year-old male with a remote history of papillary thyroid cancer who developed severe paroxysmal headaches in the setting of episodic hypertension. Brain imaging revealed multiple lesions, initially of inconclusive etiology, but suspicious for metastatic foci. A search for the primary malignancy revealed an adrenal tumor, and biochemical testing confirmed the diagnosis of a norepinephrine-secreting pheochromocytoma. Serial imaging demonstrated multiple cerebral infarctions of varying ages, evidence of vessel narrowing and irregularities in the anterior and posterior circulations, and hypoperfusion in watershed areas. An exhaustive work-up for other etiologies of stroke including thromboembolic causes or vasculitis was unremarkable. There was resolution of symptoms, absence of new infarctions, and improvement in vessel caliber after adequate alpha-adrenergic receptor blockade for the management of pheochromocytoma. This clinicoradiologic constellation of findings suggested that the etiology of the multiple infarctions was reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). Pheochromocytoma remains a poorly recognized cause of RCVS. Unexplained multifocal cerebral infarctions in the setting of severe hypertension should prompt the consideration of a vasoactive tumor as the driver of cerebrovascular dysfunction. A missed or delayed diagnosis has the potential for serious neurologic morbidity for an otherwise treatable condition.

Learning points:

  • The constellation of multifocal watershed cerebral infarctions of uncertain etiology in a patient with malignant hypertension should trigger the consideration of undiagnosed catecholamine secreting tumors, such as pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome is a serious but reversible cerebrovascular manifestation of pheochromocytomas that may lead to strokes (ischemic and hemorrhagic), seizures, and cerebral edema.

  • Alpha-adrenergic receptor blockade can reverse cerebral vasoconstriction and prevent further cerebral ischemia and infarctions.

  • Early diagnosis of catecholamine secreting tumors has the potential for reducing neurologic morbidity and mortality in patients presenting with cerebrovascular complications.

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Aisha A Tepede Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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James Welch Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Maya Lee Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Adel Mandl Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Sunita K Agarwal Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Naris Nilubol National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Dhaval Patel National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Craig Cochran Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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William F Simonds Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Lee S Weinstein Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Abhishek Jha Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Corina Millo Clinical Center PET Department (CC PET), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Karel Pacak Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Jenny E Blau Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

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Summary

Pheochromocytoma (PHEO) in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is extremely rare. The incidence is reported as less than 2%. We report a case of a 76-year-old male with familial MEN1 who was found to have unilateral PHEO. Although the patient was normotensive and asymptomatic, routine screening imaging with CT demonstrated bilateral adrenal masses. The left adrenal mass grew from 2.5 to 3.9 cm over 4 years with attenuation values of 9 Hounsfield units (HU) pre-contrast and 15 HU post-contrast washout. Laboratory evaluation demonstrated an adrenergic biochemical phenotype. Both 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET/CT and 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I-mIBG) scintigraphy demonstrated bilateral adrenal uptake. In contrast, 18F-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine (18F-FDOPA) PET/CT demonstrated unilateral left adrenal uptake (28.7 standardized uptake value (SUV)) and physiologic right adrenal uptake. The patient underwent an uneventful left adrenalectomy with pathology consistent for PHEO. Post-operatively, he had biochemical normalization. A review of the literature suggests that adrenal tumors >2 cm may be at higher risk for pheochromocytoma in patients with MEN1. Despite a lack of symptoms related to catecholamine excess, enlarging adrenal nodules should be biochemically screened for PHEO. 18F-FDOPA PET/CT may be beneficial for localization in these patients.

Learning points:

  • 18F-FDOPA PET/CT is a beneficial imaging modality for identifying pheochromocytoma in MEN1 patients.

  • Adrenal adenomas should undergo routine biochemical workup for PHEO in MEN1 and can have serious peri-operative complications if not recognized, given that MEN1 patients undergo frequent surgical interventions.

  • MEN1 is implicated in the tumorigenesis of PHEO in this patient.

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Catherine Alguire Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center (CRCHUM), Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal, Québec, Canada

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Jessica Chbat Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center (CRCHUM), Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal, Québec, Canada

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Isabelle Forest Department of Psychiatry, Centre hospitalier Pierre-Le Gardeur, Terrebonne, Québec, Canada

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Ariane Godbout Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center (CRCHUM), Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal, Québec, Canada

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Isabelle Bourdeau Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center (CRCHUM), Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal, Québec, Canada

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Summary

Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor of the adrenal gland. It often presents with the classic triad of headache, palpitations and generalized sweating. Although not described as a typical symptom of pheochromocytoma, anxiety is the fourth most common symptom reported by patients suffering of pheochromocytoma. We report the case of a 64 year old man who had severe anxiety and panic disorder as presenting symptoms of pheochromocytoma. After 13 years of psychiatric follow-up, the patient was diagnosed with malignant pheochromocytoma. After surgical resection of his pheochromocytoma and his hepatic metastases, the major panic attacks completely disappeared, the anxiety symptoms improved significantly and the psychiatric medications were stopped except for a very low maintenance dose of venlafaxine. We found in our cohort of 160 patients with pheochromocytoma 2 others cases of apparently benign tumors with severe anxiety that resolved after pheochromocytoma resection. These cases highlight that pheochromocytoma should be included in the differential diagnosis of refractory anxiety disorder.

Learning points:

  • Anxiety and panic disorder may be the main presenting symptoms of pheochromocytoma.

  • The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma should be excluded in cases of long-term panic disorder refractory to medications since the anxiety may be secondary to a catecholamine-secreting tumor.

  • Surgical treatment of pheochromocytoma leads to significant improvement of anxiety disorders.

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Cheuk-Lik Wong Department of Medicine and Geriatrics, Caritas Medical Centre, Shamshuipo, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

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Chun-Kit Fok Department of Medicine and Geriatrics, Caritas Medical Centre, Shamshuipo, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

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Vicki Ho-Kee Tam Department of Medicine and Geriatrics, Caritas Medical Centre, Shamshuipo, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

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Summary

We report a case of elderly Chinese lady with neurofibromatosis type-1 presenting with longstanding palpitation, paroxysmal hypertension and osteoporosis. Biochemical testing showed mild hypercalcaemia with non-suppressed parathyroid hormone level suggestive of primary hyperparathyroidism, and mildly elevated urinary fractionated normetanephrine and plasma-free normetanephrine pointing to a catecholamine-secreting pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma. Further scintigraphic investigation revealed evidence of a solitary parathyroid adenoma causing primary hyperparathyroidism and a left pheochromocytoma. Resection of the parathyroid adenoma and pheochromocytoma resulted in normalization of biochemical abnormalities and hypertension. The rare concurrence of primary hyperparathyroidism and pheochromocytoma in neurofibromatosis type-1 is discussed.

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Annika Sjoeholm Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Cassandra Li Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Chaey Leem Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Aiden Lee Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Maria P Stack Paediatric Nephrology, Starship Children's Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand

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Paul L Hofman Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

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Benjamin J Wheeler Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Paediatric Endocrinology, Southern District Health Board, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Summary

Phaeochromocytomas are a rare clinical entity, with dual hormone-secreting lesions particularly uncommon, seen in <1%. ACTH is the most common hormone co-produced, and is potentially lethal if not diagnosed. We present the case of a previously well 10-year-old boy, who presented acutely with a hypertensive crisis and was found to have a unilateral, non-syndromic phaeochromocytoma. Medical stabilization of his hypertension was challenging, and took 3 weeks to achieve, before proceeding to unilateral adrenalectomy. Post-operatively the child experienced severe fatigue and was subsequently confirmed to have adrenal insufficiency. He improved markedly with hydrocortisone replacement therapy, which is ongoing 6 months post-operatively. In retrospect this likely represents unrecognized, sub-clinical ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome secondary to an ACTH/or precursor dual-hormone secreting phaeochromocytoma. At follow-up, his hypertension had resolved, there was no biochemical evidence of recurrence of the phaeochromocytoma, and genetic analysis was indicative of a sporadic lesion.

Learning points

  • Dual hormone secreting phaeochromocytomas with ACTH/or a precursor may cause secondary adrenal insufficiency following surgical removal.

  • The concurrent features of Cushing's syndrome can be mild and easily overlooked presenting diagnostic and management pitfalls.

  • As concomitant syndromes of hormone excess are rare in phaeochromocytomas; the diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion.

  • Serial/diurnal cortisol levels, ACTH measurement +/− low dose dexamethasone suppression (when clinically stable, appropriate adrenergic blockade in place, and well supervised), can all be considered as needed.

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Omayma Elshafie Department of Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Yahya Al Badaai Department of Surgery, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Khalifa Alwahaibi Department of Surgery, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Asim Qureshi Department of Pathology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Samir Hussein Department of Radiology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Faisal Al Azzri Department of Radiology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Ali Almamari Department of Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Nicholas Woodhouse Department of Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Summary

A 48-year-old hypertensive and diabetic patient presented with a 10-year history of progressive right facial pain, tinnitus, hearing loss, sweating, and palpitations. Investigations revealed a 5.6 cm vascular tumor at the carotid bifurcation. Her blood pressure (BP) was 170/110, on lisinopril 20 mg od and amlodipine 10 mg od and 100 U of insulin daily. A catecholamine-secreting carotid body paraganglioma (CSCBP) was suspected; the diagnosis was confirmed biochemically by determining plasma norepinephrine (NE) level, 89 000 pmol/l, and chromogranin A (CgA) level, 279 μg/l. Meta-iodobenzylguanidine and octreotide scanning confirmed a single tumor in the neck. A week after giving the patient a trial of octreotide 100 μg 8 h, the NE level dropped progressively from 50 000 to 25 000 pmol/l and CgA from 279 to 25 μg/l. Treatment was therefore continued with labetalol 200 mg twice daily (bid) and long-acting octreotide-LA initially using 40 mg/month and later increasing to 80 mg/month. On this dose and with a reduced labetalol intake of 100 mg bid, BP was maintained at 130/70 and her symptoms resolved completely. CgA levels returned to normal in the first week and these were maintained throughout the 3 month treatment period. During tumor resection, there were minimal BP fluctuations during the 10 h procedure. We conclude that short-term high-dose octreotide-LA might prove valuable in the preoperative management of catecholamine-secreting tumors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the successful use of octreotide in a CSCBP.

Learning points

  • The value of octreotide scanning in the localization of extra-adrenal pheochromocytoma.

  • Control of catecholamine secretion using high-dose octreotide.

  • This is a report of a rare cause of secondary diabetes and hypertension.

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