Current Experience in the Diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma
The pharmacological and biochemical tests available for the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma were evaluated among 28 patients with proved tumors and 148 other patients in whom the diagnosis was suspected. Of the biochemical tests on urine, determinations of total metanephrines (MN) and of vanilmandelic acid (VMA) were much less subject to false-positive results than was determination of catecholamines (CA). Since urinary MN values changed the most in tumor patients, MN determination is preferred as the current screening test. Of the pharmacological tests, the histamine test continues to be the most valuable, especially when combined with determination of plasma CA concentration. The phentolamine (Regitine) test has not proved to be of any distinct value as a primary diagnostic aid. Any of the chemical or pharmacological tests occasionally may give a false-positive result. The urinary output of excessive amounts of homovanillic acid (HVA) was an indication of the presence of pheochromocytoma with some features histologically similar to other neural crest tumors but was not an indication of malignancy. Reliable diagnosis of pheochromocytoma still must be based on multiple studies in an appropriate clinical setting.
- © 1966 American Heart Association, Inc.