Phaeochromocytoma

The adrenal medulla synthesizes catecholamines. Hyperfunction of the adrenal medulla causes symptoms related to catecholamine excess. More than 90 per cent of phaeochromocytomas arise from the adrenal medulla, commonly as part of multiple endocrine neoplasia. Since the majority of phaeochromocytomas secrete predominantly noradrenaline (norepinephrine), hypertension is the most common finding. (73) Other symptoms may include flushing, anxiety, abdominal pain, and chest pain. Wide fluctuations in autonomic symptoms are common. Diagnosis is made by assessing urine for the elevated excretion of catecholamines and their metabolites (e.g. vanillylmandelic acid). Treatment is surgical if the lesion is localizable and accessible.

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