Surgical management of pheochromocytoma with the use of metyrosine

Ann Surg. 1990 Nov;212(5):621-8. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199011000-00010.


Despite recommended preoperative preparation with alpha-adrenergic blockers, severe hemodynamic instability may occur during operations to resect pheochromocytoma. We combined the alpha-blocker phenoxybenzamine with the tyrosine hydroxylase inhibitor metyrosine in an attempt to better manage the hypertension of patients with pheochromocytoma undergoing surgical resection. This report reviews the cases of 25 consecutive patients undergoing surgery for known intra-abdominal pheochromocytoma. Each patient had elevated serum or urine levels of catecholamines or their metabolites. Nineteen patients were prepared before operation with phenoxybenzamine and metyrosine and six patients were given phenoxybenzamine alone. There were no significant differences in maximum, minimum, or mean blood pressure before or after tumor resection between patients who received metyrosine and those who did not. However careful review suggested that those who received metyrosine had more severe disease as judged by biochemical criteria. Study of selected patients matched for age and severity of disease suggested that the intraoperative blood pressure management of patients prepared with phenoxybenzamine and metyrosine was facilitated. In addition metyrosine-prepared patients lost less blood and required less volume replacement during surgery than did non-metyrosine-prepared patients. There were no apparent differences in postoperative fluid requirements. Although the study is not a prospective randomized trial, a retrospective review of patients managed with the combination of phenoxybenzamine and metyrosine suggests that surgery to resect pheochromocytoma can be better performed with both drugs than with phenoxybenzamine alone. The combination regimen appears to result in better blood pressure control, less blood loss, and the need for less intraoperative fluid replacement than does the traditional method of single-agent alpha-adrenergic blockade.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Methyltyrosines / therapeutic use*
  • Phenoxybenzamine / therapeutic use*
  • Pheochromocytoma / drug therapy
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery*
  • Preoperative Care
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine


  • Methyltyrosines
  • Phenoxybenzamine
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase