Presentation, Treatment, Histology, and Outcomes in Adrenal Medullary Hyperplasia Compared With Pheochromocytoma

J Endocr Soc. 2019 Jun 11;3(8):1518-1530. doi: 10.1210/js.2019-00200. eCollection 2019 Aug 1.


Context: Information about adrenal medullary hyperplasia (AMH) is scarce.

Objective: To study a large cohort of AMHs.

Design setting and participants: Nineteen AMH cases were compared with 95 pheochromocytomas (PCCs) without AMH. AMH without (n = 7) and with PCC (n = 12) were analyzed separately.

Results: Of 936 adrenalectomies, 2.1% had AMH. Mean age was 47.2 ± 15.1 years. Only two (11%) AMHs had no concurrent PCC or adrenocortical adenoma. In AMHs, a genetic syndrome was present in 58% vs 4% in PCCs (P < 0.001). The noradrenaline/metanephrine levels were lower in AMHs, whereas suppression of dexamethasone was less than in PCCs. Cushing syndrome was found in 11% of AMHs. More AMHs were found during screening and less as incidentalomas. PCC symptoms were less prevalent in AMHs. Surgical management was similar; however, fewer of the AMHs were pretreated with alpha-blockers. Adrenalectomy improved blood pressure slightly less in AMHs. The disappearance of glycemic disturbances was similar to the PPCs. During a period of 11.2 ± 9.4 years, a new PCC developed in 32% of patients with AMH, 11% died, but no PCC metastasis occurred (PCCs: 4%, P < 0.001; 14% and 5%). AMHs without PCC had milder symptoms but more often Cushing disease than patients with PCC, whereas AMH with PCC more often displayed a familiar syndrome with more PCC recurrences.

Conclusion: A total of 2.1% of all adrenalectomies displayed AMH. AMH seemed to be a PCC precursor. The symptoms and signs were milder than PCCs. AMHs were mainly found due to screening. Outcomes seemed favorable, but new PCCs developed in many during follow-up.

Keywords: blood pressure; diabetes; genetic syndrome; mortality; presentation; surgery.