Twenty-Five-Year Surgical Experience with Pheochromocytoma in Children

Reddy, V. Seenu; O'Neill Jr., James A.; Holcomb III, George W.; Neblett III, Wallace W.; Pietsch, John B.; Morgan III, Walter M.; Goldstein, Richard E.
December 2000
American Surgeon;Dec2000, Vol. 66 Issue 12, p1085
Academic Journal
Our objective was to analyze the presentation, diagnostic localization, operative management, histology, and long-term outcome of a single center's experience with pheochromocytomas in children. A chart review was done to identify all operatively managed pheochromocytomas in patients age 18 years or younger. Open and laparoscopic cases were included. We reviewed the presentation, diagnostic imaging, localization, operative management, pathology, and postoperative outcome of these patients. Clinic visits, contact with the tumor registry, and telephone interviews were used for follow-up. From 1973 through 1999, there were 11 children (four males and seven females) with 14 pheochromocytomas. Two (18.2%) patients had bilateral adrenal lesions and one patient had both adrenal and extra-adrenal tumors. Six (54.5%) patients had extra-adrenal lesions. The average age at operation was 14.7 years (range 9-18 years). Nine (82%) patients had significant hypertension at presentation. CT was used to localize the tumor in eight patients and urine catecholamine levels were used to confirm the diagnosis. Two of the cases were associated with inherited syndromes (multiple endocrine neoplasia 2A and von Hippel-Lindau). Ten patients underwent an open operation and one patient had a laparoscopic resection. The average patient follow-up was 9.2 years (range 9 months to 25 years). There were no operative complications and all patients were alive and well at the time of last follow-up. Three patients (27.2%) had tumors with microscopic malignant features. No tumors recurred or had evidence for metastatic spread. We conclude that peak incidence of pheochromocytomas in children is in early adolescence. Resection can be carried out safely with minimal morbidity and mortality. Current best management of this entity includes establishment of a biochemical diagnosis, adequate preoperative blockade, appropriate imaging, and an individualized operative approach based on tumor location and size.


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