Adrenal-sparing adrenalectomy is considered the treatment of choice for hereditary bilateral pheochromocytoma in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A).
Retrospective analysis of prospectively documented data with a mean ± SD follow-up of 81.5 ± 85.3 months. The PubMed database was searched for articles published between 1975 and 2004 to identify published series and/or case reports.
University hospital referral center.
In 17 (22%) of 77 patients with various mutations of the RET proto-oncogene, unilateral (n = 12) or bilateral (n = 5) pheochromocytomas were documented at the time of diagnosis or during the course of MEN 2A. Adrenal-sparing surgery was performed in 13 patients (group 1), synchronous bilateral total adrenalectomy in 4 patients (group 2A), and metachronous bilateral total adrenalectomy in 5 patients after adrenal-sparing adrenalectomy (group 2B).
Main Outcome Measures
Measurement of 24-hour urinary catecholamine levels (noradrenaline, adrenaline, and dopamine) and, in case of high catecholamine levels, imaging studies to localize the tumors in 1 or both adrenal glands to determine the size and exclude extra-adrenal tumors and distant metastasis.
The mean±SD estimated 5- and 10-year cumulative risk of developing recurrence in both groups was 38.5% ± 15.7%. Five (38%) of 13 patients in group 1 developed recurrence in the contralateral gland. Two (22%) of 9 patients in groups 2A and 2B developed several episodes of an addisonian crisis, 1 of whom died.
Substantial morbidity and mortality are associated with addisonian crisis after bilateral adrenalectomy. Adrenal-sparing adrenalectomy and close monitoring of the remnant may be the treatment of choice for hereditary bilateral pheochromocytoma in MEN 2A, since overall recurrence is low.