A Clinical Case of Pheochromocytoma Presenting with Decompensated Diabetes Mellitus and Paroxysmal Hypertension
Author: Markova, Mina M.1, Elenkova, Atanaska P.2,3,Zacharieva, Sabina Z.2, 3
Pheochromocytoma is a rare neuroendocrine tumor that originates from the adrenal medulla, less commonly from extraadrenal chromaffin cells (paraganglioma). In about 90% of cases, the tumor produces abnormal amounts of catecholamines. Pheochromocytomas are usually benign, but in rare cases can be malignant. Typical clinical manifestations are the result of the haemodynamic and metabolic effects of catecholamines and usually include paroxysmal hypertension with the classic triad (headache, excessive sweating, palpitations), carbohydrate disorders, etc. Elevated levels of catecholamine metabolites (metanephrine and normetanephrine) tested in plasma or in 24-hour urine confirm the diagnosis. Surgical removal of the tumor is the only radical treatment. Follow-up of patients postoperatively should be lifelong and performed by a multidisciplinary team in a specialized center of expertise.
A 36-year-old female patient referred to the clinic for decompensated diabetes mellitus. Detailed history revealed paroxysmal hypertension and the classic triad of pheochromocytoma. Тhe diagnosis was confirmed by high urinary metanephrine levels and an abdominal CT scan, showing a tumor in the right adrenal gland with features typical of pheochromocytoma. Surgical removal of the pheochromocytoma and normalization of catecholamine levels led to normalization of blood pressure and reversal of diabetes mellitus.
Pheochromocytoma is a difficult diagnosis in endocrinology practice as it can mimic many other diseases. Early detection and surgical removal of the tumor are crucial to avoid complications caused by elevated serum catecholamine levels