Malignant paraganglioma presenting with hemorrhagic stroke in a child

Pediatrics. 2013 Dec;132(6):e1709-14. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-0492. Epub 2013 Nov 25.


Sympathetic paragangliomas are rare catecholamine-secreting tumors of extra-adrenal origin, and their diagnosis in children is even more infrequent. They usually manifest as hypertension, palpitations, headache, sweating, and pallor. Malignant paragangliomas are identified by the presence of metastasis. Hemorrhagic stroke in the pediatric population is a life-threatening condition with several etiologies. We report here the case of a 12-year-old boy with malignant sympathetic paraganglioma presenting with hemorrhagic stroke. Severe hypertension was found and the patient evolved into a coma. Brain computed tomography scan showed right thalamus hemorrhage with intraventricular extension. After clinical improvement, further investigation revealed elevated catecholamine and metanephrine levels, and 2 abdominal tumors were identified by computed tomography. Resection of both lesions was performed, and histologic findings were consistent with paraganglioma. Multiple metastatic involvement of bones and soft tissues appeared several years later. Genetic testing identified a mutation in succinate dehydrogenase subunit B gene, with paternal transmission. 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine therapy was performed 3 times with no tumoral response. Our patient is alive, with adequate quality of life, 25 years after initial diagnosis. To our knowledge, this is the first pediatric case of paraganglioma presenting with hemorrhagic stroke. Intracerebral hemorrhage was probably caused by severe hypertension due to paraganglioma. Therefore, we expand the recognized clinical spectrum of the disease. Physicians evaluating children with hemorrhagic stroke, particularly if hypertension is a main symptom, should consider the possibility of catecholamine-secreting tumors. Metastatic disease is associated with succinate dehydrogenase subunit B mutations and, although some patients have poor prognosis, progression can be indolent.

Keywords: SDHB; child; hemorrhagic stroke; indolent; malignant; paraganglioma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage, Hypertensive / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage, Hypertensive / etiology*
  • Male
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / complications
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / diagnosis*
  • Paraganglioma / complications
  • Paraganglioma / diagnosis*
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / etiology*

Supplementary concepts

  • Paragangliomas 3