Predictive factors and the effect of phenoxybenzamine on outcome in dogs undergoing adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma

J Vet Intern Med. Nov-Dec 2008;22(6):1333-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2008.0182.x. Epub 2008 Sep 9.


Background: Some studies in dogs undergoing adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma suggest that anesthetic complications and perioperative mortality are common. In humans, surgical outcome has improved with the use of phenoxybenzamine (PBZ) before adrenalectomy.

Hypothesis: Dogs treated with PBZ before adrenalectomy have increased survival compared with untreated dogs.

Animals: Forty-eight dogs that underwent adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma.

Methods: A retrospective medical record review for dogs that underwent adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma at a veterinary medical teaching hospital over the period from January 1986 through December 2005.

Results: Twenty-three of 48 dogs were pretreated with PBZ (median dosage: 0.6 mg/kg PO q12h) for a median duration of 20 days before adrenalectomy. Duration of anesthesia and surgery, percentage of dogs with pheochromocytoma involving the right versus left adrenal gland, size of tumor, and presence of vascular invasion were similar for PBZ-treated and untreated dogs. Thirty-three (69%) of 48 dogs survived adrenalectomy in the perioperative period. PBZ-treated dogs had a significantly (P = .014) decreased mortality rate compared with untreated dogs (13 versus 48%, respectively). Additional significant prognostic factors for improved survival included younger age (P = .028), lack of intraoperative arrhythmias (P = .0075), and decreased surgical time (P = .0089).

Conclusions and clinical importance: Results from this retrospective study support treatment with PBZ before surgical removal of pheochromocytoma in dogs.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy / adverse effects
  • Adrenalectomy / veterinary*
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy
  • Dog Diseases / surgery*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Phenoxybenzamine / therapeutic use*
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • Pheochromocytoma / veterinary*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Postoperative Complications / veterinary
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Phenoxybenzamine