The diagnosis and management of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma during pregnancy

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2023 Feb;24(1):49-56. doi: 10.1007/s11154-022-09773-2. Epub 2023 Jan 13.


Diagnosis of pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma (PPGL) in pregnancy has been associated historically with high rates of materno-fetal morbidity and mortality. Recent evidence suggests outcomes are improved by recognition of PPGL before or during pregnancy and appropriate medical management with alpha-blockade. Whether antepartum surgery (before the third trimester) is required remains controversial and open to case-based merits. Women with PPGL in pregnancy are more commonly delivered by Caesarean section, although vaginal delivery appears to be safe in selected cases. At least some PPGLs express the luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin receptor (LHCGR) which may explain their dramatic manifestation in pregnancy. PPGLs in pregnancy are often associated with heritable syndromes, and genetic counselling and testing should be offered routinely in this setting. Since optimal outcomes are only achieved by early recognition of PPGL in (or ideally before) pregnancy, it is incumbent for clinicians to be aware of this diagnosis in a pregnant woman with hypertension occurring before 20 weeks' gestation, and acute and/or refractory hypertension particularly if paroxysmal and accompanied by sweating, palpitations and/or headaches. All women with a past history of PPGL and/or heritable PPGL syndrome should be carefully assessed for the presence of residual or recurrent disease before considering pregnancy.

Keywords: Adrenal medulla; Catecholamines; Paraganglioma; Pheochromocytoma; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Paraganglioma* / diagnosis
  • Paraganglioma* / genetics
  • Paraganglioma* / therapy
  • Pheochromocytoma* / diagnosis
  • Pheochromocytoma* / genetics
  • Pheochromocytoma* / therapy
  • Pregnancy