Traumatic Hemorrhage of Occult Pheochromocytoma: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

May, Elaine E.; Beal, Alan L.; Beilman, Gregory J.
August 2000
American Surgeon;Aug2000, Vol. 66 Issue 8, p720
Academic Journal
Pheochromocytoma usually presents with gradual onset and mild to moderate symptoms, but may present acutely with severe symptoms. Hemorrhage into pheochromocytoma is a rare cause of acute presentation that is often devastating to patients. We describe the case of a 34-year-old woman with hemorrhage into a previously undiscovered pheochromocytoma following a fall on a patch of ice. This is the first reported case of hemorrhagic pheochromocytoma associated with traumatic injury. Despite removal of the tumor within 18 hours of presentation, the patient suffered severe complications of massive catecholamine excess, including shock, cardiomyopathy, and adult respiratory distress syndrome. Animal studies have shown that early treatment with blockers can prevent some, if not all of these complications. Proper management of hemorrhagic pheochromocytoma should include a high index of suspicion with early diagnosis and treatment with alpha blockers and surgical resection of the tumor when the patient is stable enough to tolerate the procedure.


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