Incidence of pheochromocytoma in trauma patients during the management of unrelated illness: A retrospective review

B. Kirshtein, G. Pagliarello, J. D. Yelle, E. C. Poulin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Over the last two decades the rate of detection of asymptomatic adrenal masses has increased as a result of the widespread use of abdominal imaging modalities. Incidental pheochromocytoma discovered during the management of an unrelated illness is a rare presentation of these tumors. They can occur in patients treated for multiple trauma with no history of prior arterial hypertension. Methods: From January 1995 to December 2005 a total of 45 patients underwent adrenalectomy for incidentaloma. Of these, a pheochromocytoma was detected in 13 patients (29%) seen for an unrelated condition, 3 were in trauma patients. Nine men and 4 women with a mean age 44.5 years (range 21-67) underwent adrenalectomy for incidental pheochromocytoma. Results: Less than half (6 patients, 46%), and one of the trauma patients had a history of arterial hypertension. Preoperative hormonal studies revealed a pheochomocytoma in 11 patients with incidentalomas. One patient had normal preoperative cathecolamines levels. Laparoscopic transabdominal adrenalectomy was attempted in 10 patients with one conversion to open surgery in the case of paraganglioma and one for injury to the left renal vein. Three patients underwent open adrenalectomy. Mean surgery time of trauma patients was 167 (range, 130-235) min. Intraoperative instability (systolic pressure >200 mmHg) requiring nitroprusside and/or labetalol, was observed in 7 patients (54%). There was no postoperative morbidity or mortality. Over the last 10 years, 23% of the pheochromocytomas found incidentally were in trauma patients. Conclusion: Incidentally discovered adrenal masses need to be investigated for pheochromocytoma. This holds specially true for trauma patients who may be put in serious jeopardy should they need surgery for their injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-335
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenal mass
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Incidentaloma
  • Laparoscopy
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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