PHEOCHROMOCYTOMA CONCEALED BY CHRONIC METHAMPHETAMINE ABUSE
SourceAACE Clinical Case Reports, 6, 5, (2020), pp. e212-e216
Article / Letter to editor
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AACE Clinical Case Reports
SubjectRadboudumc 16: Vascular damage RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
OBJECTIVE: Both clinical suspicion and diagnosis of pheochromocytoma (PCC) can be challenging in patients where the presentation can be confused with the pharmacophysiological effects of illicit drugs known to activate the sympathetic nervous system. We report on such a patient and outline considerations that can impact diagnostic decision making. METHODS: Clinical examination, measurement of plasma metanephrines, followed by magnetic resonance imaging, iodine 123-metaiodobenzylguanidine single-photon emission computed tomography, and histopathology of the resected tumor. RESULTS: A 35-year-old male patient was referred to our center because of a right-sided adrenal mass, incidentally found during an abdominal ultrasound performed due to nausea, vomiting, and lumbar pain. Although he had no history of hypertension, he had complained for over 6 years of severe episodic headache, panic attacks, and profuse sweating. He also had a longer history of methamphetamine abuse. Plasma concentrations of metanephrine (10.7 pmol/L) and normetanephrine (3.83 pmol/L) were 25-fold and 5.6-fold above respective upper limits of reference intervals (0.42 and 0.69 pmol/L). This indicated a PCC, which was confirmed after adrenalectomy. Failure to recognize the patient's signs and symptoms as attributable to a PCC was unsurprising given that methamphetamine abuse can result in many of the same signs and symptoms as a catecholamine-producing tumor. CONCLUSION: The abuse of drugs such as methamphetamine can obscure an underlying PCC due to the similarity of several symptoms associated with both conditions. Recognition of a PCC in patients using illicit drugs such as methamphetamine remains challenging.
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