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Adrenal-sparing surgery for phaeochromocytoma

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Background: Adrenalectomy is the current treatment for phaeochromocytoma. Consequently, patients with bilateral adrenal phaeochromocytoma become steroid dependent. An adrenal-sparing surgical technique was introduced in 1985. The results of this treatment have been reviewed.

Methods: Since 1985, 39 patients with adrenal phaeochromocytoma (16 men and 23 women, aged 10–76 years) have been treated. Thirty-three patients had unilateral and six had bilateral phaeochromocytomas. Seven of the former 33 had a contralateral adrenal tumour resected previously. All 39 patients were re-evaluated biochemically and clinically for ipsilateral recurrence.

Results: Adrenal-sparing surgery was performed successfully in 37 of the 39 patients. In one, adrenal-sparing resection was impossible anatomically and total adrenalectomy was necessary. Another patient with bilateral tumours had retroperitoneal haemorrhage and became steroid dependent. None of the remaining 12 patients who had bilateral adrenal surgery required steroid replacement. Adrenocortical function was normal in eight and mildly impaired in two of the ten patients who had evaluation by adrenocorticotrophic hormone stimulation. After a mean follow-up of 73 months, one patient with von Hippel–Lindau disease developed a recurrence in the ipsilateral adrenal gland. Genetic testing revealed that 26 of the 39 patients, including half of those with a unilateral tumour, had hereditary phaeochromocytoma.

Conclusion: Adrenal-sparing surgery is safe and effective, and may become the treatment of choice in patients with hereditary phaeochromocytoma.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany 2: Department of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany 3: Department of Surgery, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany 4: Department of Radiology, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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