Pheochromocytoma presenting as a pancreatic mass: Avoiding a dangerous pitfall in endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy using GATA3 immunostain

Cytopathology. 2022 Jan;33(1):127-131. doi: 10.1111/cyt.13060. Epub 2021 Sep 29.


Pheochromocytomas and sympathetic paragangliomas are rare tumours arising from chromaffin cells, producing catecholamines in various amounts. Fatal hypertensive episodes may occur perioperatively, which are preventable by alpha adrenergic receptor blockers. The perioperative mortality rate of diagnosed versus undiagnosed catecholamine-producing tumours is significant, considering that only a minority of tumours develop metastasis. Herein we describe a case of a primary adrenal pheochromocytoma referred to as a pancreatic tumour, successfully diagnosed by endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy, with a distinct morphology (prominent nuclear anisonucleosis, intranuclear pseudoinclusions, and multinucleation) and immunohistochemical signature.

Keywords: fine needle aspiration biopsy; immunohistochemistry; paraganglioma; pheochromocytoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Pheochromocytoma* / diagnosis


  • GATA3 Transcription Factor
  • GATA3 protein, human