Tumor recurrence and hypertension persistence after successful pheochromocytoma operation

Hypertension. 1997 May;29(5):1133-9. doi: 10.1161/01.hyp.29.5.1133.


Pheochromocytoma is a catecholamine-secreting tumor and a rare cause of hypertension that is usually curable. However, pheochromocytoma may recur as a benign or malignant tumor, and hypertension may persist after successful surgical intervention. The frequency of and risk indicators for tumor recurrence and hypertension persistence after successful surgical intervention have not been adequately studied. We determined tumoral and blood pressure outcome in 129 patients followed-up from initial pheochromocytoma resection to death or to 1994 (796 patient-years). We assessed several candidate indicators for their predictive value for the risk of tumor recurrence or hypertension persistence. Recurrence was defined as the reappearance of disease after normalization of biochemical tests. Pheochromocytoma caused death or persistent or recurrent disease in 28 patients. Of the 114 with benign tumors at initial operation, pheochromocytoma recurred as a benign or malignant tumor 17 to 194 months after initial operation in 16 cases. Kaplan-Meier estimates of pheochromocytoma-free survival were 92% and 80% at 5 and 10 years, respectively. In the 98 living patients without recurrence, Kaplan-Meier estimates of hypertension-free survival were 74% and 45% at 5 and 10 years. In the Cox model, familial pheochromocytoma and a low ratio of plasma epinephrine to total catecholamines were independently associated with recurrence. Familial hypertension and age were similarly associated with hypertension persistence. After surgery for pheochromocytoma, patients should be followed-up indefinitely, especially those with familial tumors or a low epinephrine secretion. Pheochromocytoma should not unreservedly be considered a surgically remediable cause of hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pheochromocytoma / complications
  • Pheochromocytoma / pathology*
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors