Metoclopramide induced pheochromocytoma crisis

Am J Emerg Med. 2018 Jun;36(6):1124.e1-1124.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2018.03.009. Epub 2018 Mar 5.


Metoclopramide (MCP) is a commonly used anti-emetic in the emergency department (ED). Its use is generally well tolerated; although infrequent adverse reactions such as extrapyramidal reactions or tardive dyskinesia are reported. However, many ED providers are not familiar with the potentially life-threatening hypertensive emergency that can be precipitated by MCP administration in patients with pheochromocytoma. A previously healthy 36-year-old woman presented to the ED with headache and nausea. She developed acute hypertensive emergency (acute agitation, worsening headache, chest pain and wide complex tachycardia) when her blood pressure (BP) increased to 223/102mmHg (initial BP, 134/86mmHg) after receiving intravenous MCP. Her hospital course was complicated by multi-organ injury, including acute respiratory distress syndrome requiring venous-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, non-ST elevation myocardial infarction, cardiogenic shock, acute liver failure, and oliguric kidney injury requiring continuous renal replacement therapy. CT scan showed previously undiagnosed large right adrenal mass (5.9cm). The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma was confirmed after adrenalectomy. Drug-induced acute pheochromocytoma crisis is a rare event. Early recognition and appropriate blood pressure management with clevidipine, nicardipine, or phentolamine is essential.

Keywords: Adverse drug reaction; Hypertensive crisis; Metoclopramide; Pheochromocytoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Adult
  • Antiemetics / administration & dosage
  • Antiemetics / adverse effects*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Female
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Metoclopramide / administration & dosage
  • Metoclopramide / adverse effects*
  • Nausea / drug therapy
  • Pheochromocytoma / chemically induced*
  • Pheochromocytoma / physiopathology
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / chemically induced*
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiemetics
  • Metoclopramide