Metastatic adrenal pheochromocytoma to the thoracic spine

Michael T. Scalfani, Paul M. Arnold, Karen K. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To report on a case of pheochromocytoma metastases to the spine occurring more than 20 years after initial diagnosis. A 34-year-old female with a history of metastatic pheochromocytoma diagnosed at age 12 presented with weakness, heart palpitations, and circumferential back pain of five months duration. The patient had undergone multiple laparotomies for abdominal and hepatic metastases. Work-up revealed a destructive lesion at T9. After two weeks of preoperative phenoxybenzamine to control her hypertension, she underwent decompression, posterior fixation and fusion. Surgical intervention was followed by radiation therapy, zoledronic acid, and only one cycle of chemotherapy due to intolerance of side effects. The patient survived 25 years after original diagnosis, which far exceeds the average survival of less than 15 years. The patient died 26 months postoperatively due to progression of disease. Pheochromocytoma with spine metastases occurring more than 20 years after diagnosis is very uncommon, and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a patient with a history of pheochromocytoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-346
Number of pages4
JournalColuna/ Columna
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Case reports
  • Diagnosis
  • Differential
  • Neoplasm metastasis
  • Paraganglioma
  • Pheochromocytoma/diagnosis
  • Spinal cord compression
  • Survivorship
  • Thoracic vertebrae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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