Recurrent pheochromocytomas in children

J Pediatr Surg. 1990 Oct;25(10):1063-5. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(90)90219-y.


Between 1958 and 1987, 13 children (aged 8 to 17 years) with 20 pheochromocytomas were diagnosed and treated. Five of these 13 had multiple (12) tumors and four patients had five recurrences in 6 years (1980 to 1986). There were three girls and one boy between 8 and 15 years of age. One girl had von Hippel-Lindau disease. Three of four original tumors were adrenal and less than 6 cm in diameter. All were excised without complications and went home normotensive. The five recurrent tumors were diagnosed and treated within 6 years of the original tumor when the children were 9 to 17 years; their presenting symptoms and signs (3 months) were hypertension plus others, not necessarily the same as previously. Computed tomography scan was again positive in the three that had this test; vanillylmandelic acid was the only uniformly positive biochemical test. Norepinephrines were positive in the three patients examined. The three girls had their recurrent tumors found in the opposite adrenal and the boy once again had two more tumors (adrenal and chest); all tumors were less than 3 cm in diameter and easily excised. They remain normotensive and well up to 8 years. Within this small group of recurrences, there was no specific pattern that would have led one to suspect that they would return with another pheo. There was nothing unusual about their recurrent tumor, except that it was usually in the opposite adrenal; only one of the four children has no remaining adrenal tissue. Although follow-up is important, recurrent pheochromocytomas seem to be heralded by recurrent symptoms and signs of hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / complications
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / diagnosis
  • Pheochromocytoma / complications
  • Pheochromocytoma / diagnosis*