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April 1976

Symptoms of Pheochromocytoma, With Particular Reference to Headache, Correlated With Catecholamine Production

Author Affiliations

From the divisions of neurology (Dr Lance) and clinical chemistry (Dr Hinterberger), the Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, Australia, and the School of Medicine, University of South Wales.

Arch Neurol. 1976;33(4):281-288. doi:10.1001/archneur.1976.00500040065011

• In a series of 27 patients with proved pheochromocytoma, differential analysis of catecholamines in blood, urine, and tumor specimens of 19 patients enabled grouping of subjects into those whose tumors produced predominantly norepinephrine (NE) (11 patients), predominantly epinephrine (E [two patients]) and approximately equal amounts of both (six patients). Sustained hypertension was more common in the first group and pallor and tremor in the latter two groups, but no distinctive syndrome could be recognized as signifying the secretion of NE or E. Headache was a symptom in 20 of 27 patients and was related to sudden, transient elevation of the blood pressure, rather than sustained hypertension. The variable duration and intensity of the headache in different patients can be explained by the pressor and cranial vasoconstrictor effects of the secreted amines, which respectively enhance and diminish vascular headache.

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