Outcomes of pheochromocytoma management in the laparoscopic era

Carmen C. Solorzano, John I. Lew, Scott M. Wilhelm, William Sumner, Wendy Huang, William Wu, Raquel Montano, Danny Sleeman, Richard A. Prinz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Laparoscopic adrenalectomy (LA) is the preferred surgical approach for pheochromocytomas. We have investigated the changes in diagnosis, management and outcome of pheochromocytomas treated since the widespread advent of LA. Methods: Data were collected retrospectively from 96 patients with pheochromocytomas that had been surgically treated at three tertiary referral centers. Results: There were 53 females. Mean age was 47 years (10-81). Tumors were found incidentally in 40% of patients. Of the 96 patients, 12 (13%) had familial syndromes. CT or MRI localized the adrenal lesion in all patients. MIBG scans obtained from 32 patients were concordant with the CT/MRI in 19, were false negative in 9 and misleading in 1, and altered management in only 3 patients. Mean tumor size was 5.6 cm (1.8-17). There were 92 adrenal pheochromocytomas and 9 paragangliomas. Laparoscopy was successful in 67 of 74 (91%) patients, with 20 of 67 (30%) having tumors of 6 cm or greater in size. Conversions to open procedures were performed in patients with 4 left, 2 right pheochromocytomas and 1 paraganglioma. Of the patients, 22 had an open procedure due to suspicion of malignancy or large tumors. Malignancy was observed in 4 of 92 (4.3%) pheochromocytomas and 4 of 9 (44%) paragangliomas. Average follow-up was 22 months (1-122). There were seven recurrences. Postoperative biochemical tests available in 64 patients were normal in 90%. Conclusions: The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma was made incidentally in 40% of patients. MIBG is not necessary for unilateral non-hereditary pheochromocytomas localized by CT/MRI. LA is possible with excellent results in most patients, including for treatment of lesions 6 cm or greater in size with no signs of invasion. Laparoscopy should be used cautiously for paragangliomas because of a high rate of malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3004-3010
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Adrenalectomy
  • Laparoscopic
  • Malignant
  • Outcomes
  • Paraganglioma
  • Pheochromocytoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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