Giant left pheochromocytoma with vascular anomalies and pelvic horseshoe kidney: a case report

BMC Urol. 2023 Dec 8;23(1):204. doi: 10.1186/s12894-023-01370-y.


Background: Pheochromocytoma is a neuroendocrine tumor, and its treatment is dependent on surgical resection. Due to the wide availability of cross-sectional imaging, pheochromocytomas are commonly seen as small tumors less than 10 cm in size and are mostly treated with minimally invasive surgery. Their concomitant presence with horseshoe kidney or other anatomical and vascular anomalies is rare. Herein, we present a surgically complex giant pheochromocytoma case who underwent an open left radical adrenalectomy.

Case presentation: A 41-year-old Hispanic female presented with a 12 × 8 cm left hypervascular adrenal mass, pelvic horseshoe kidney, and severely dilated large left retro-aortic renal vein which branched into a left adrenal vein, congested left ovarian vein, and left uterine plexus. She was managed with insulin and metformin for uncontrolled diabetes with an A1c level of 9% and doxazosin for persistent hypertension. Clinical diagnosis of pheochromocytoma was confirmed with elevated urine and serum metanephrine and normetanephrine. The pre-operative ACTH was within normal range with a normal dexamethasone suppression test and 24-hour urine free cortisol. The adrenalectomy of the highly aggressive adrenal mass was performed via open approach to obtain adequate surgical exposure. Due to the large size of the tumor and its significant involvement with multiple adjacent structures, coordination with multiple surgical teams and close hemodynamic monitoring by anesthesiology was required for successful patient outcomes including preservation of blood supply to the pelvic horseshoe kidney. The histopathological diagnosis was pheochromocytoma with negative surgical margins. The patient was followed at 1, 4, 12, and 24 weeks postoperatively. She had a normal postoperative eGFR and was able to discontinue antihypertensive and antidiabetic medications at four weeks. She had transient adrenal insufficiency, which resolved at five months. The horseshoe kidney was intact except for a minimal area of hypo-enhancement in the left superior renal moiety due to infarction, which was significantly improved at six months.

Conclusion: Our patient had a giant pheochromocytoma with anatomical variations complicating an already surgically challenging procedure. Nonetheless, with multiple provider collaboration, detailed pre-operative surgical planning, and meticulous perioperative monitoring, radical resection of the giant pheochromocytoma was safe and feasible with successful postoperative outcomes.

Keywords: Adrenal gland Neoplasm; Adrenalectomy; Horseshoe kidney; Left retro-aortic renal vein; Pheochromocytoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / complications
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Adrenal Glands / diagnostic imaging
  • Adrenal Glands / surgery
  • Adrenalectomy / methods
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fused Kidney* / complications
  • Humans
  • Pheochromocytoma* / complications
  • Pheochromocytoma* / diagnosis
  • Pheochromocytoma* / surgery