434.924.3627
Visitor Information

434.924.3627

Make an Appointment

434.243.3675

Online Appointments

Use our form

Patient Services
Google Search Patients

Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma is a tumor made up of adrenal gland cells. The cells secrete hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. The cells may secrete excessive amounts of the hormones, which results in:

  • Very high blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Severe headaches

Most of these tumors are benign and grow on the adrenal glands, which are located on top of the kidneys. Genetic mutation may cause pheochromocytoma.

Adrenal Glands

Adrenal Glands

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.es

Are You at Risk?

Factors that may increase your chances of pheochromocytoma include:

  • A family history
  • Tumors in other glands of the body
  • Hormonal disorders

Genetic diseases associated with pheochromocytoma include:

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1
  • Paraganglioma syndromes

Symptoms of Pheochromocytoma

Most people don't have symptoms. In people who have them, symptoms may include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sensation of a panic attack
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Pounding heart beat
  • Chest pain
  • Involuntary trembling
  • Pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Warmth, flushing
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure, which can be constant or sporadic
  • Tingling, burning or numbness in the legs and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Unable to cope with high temperature
  • Aggressive or unusual behavior

Diagnosing Pheochromocytoma

Your doctor may need to test your body fluids. This can be done with:

  • Urine testing
  • Blood testing
  • Clonidine suppression test

Your doctor may need images of your body structures. This can be done with:

  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • MIBG scintiscan or adrenal medullary imaging
  • PET scan

Treatment for Pheochromocytoma

Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy

Your doctor removes benign tumors with small incisions and special instruments. Your doctor may also remove the adrenal glands as a part of this process. You'll need to lower your blood pressure with medications prior to surgery.

Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy

Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy if the tumor is cancerous and has spread outside of the adrenal glands.

Radiation therapy may also be used to help destroy the tumors if they have spread.

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

Call us at 434.243.3675.

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Make an Appointment

Call us at 434.243.3675

or make an appointment online.