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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lessons from an unpleasant surprise: a biochemical strategy for the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma.

OBJECTIVE: To audit the performances of the analytes used in the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma and to present a graphical guideline to help the diagnosis. DESIGN: A 5 year retrospective study. SETTINGS: Laboratory and departments of a university hospital. PARTICIPANTS: In-patients, suspected of bearing a pheochromocytoma, were investigated for urinary metanephrines and catecholamines (photometric method) and vanillylmandelic acid, fractionated catecholamines and metanephrines [high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to electrochemical detection (ED)] urinary excretion. MAIN OUTCOME: Patients with a pheochromocytoma (24 out of 2003 patients) were diagnosed by the combination of normetanephrine and metanephrine determination. RESULTS: All analytes but dopamine were significantly elevated in patients with a pheochromocytoma. The area under the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves were the highest for total metanephrines, normetanephrine and metanephrine determinations. Because of analytical interferences in the metanephrines determination, the normetanephrine and metanephrine performed better. It is noteworthy that all pheochromocytomas had either normetanephrine or metanephrine levels above their respective optimal threshold (sensitivity 100%). The best optimal threshold performance was reached by the mean of three daily samples. Total or fractionated catecholamines or vanillylmandelic acid were less accurate tools. CONCLUSION: Amongst urinary tests, the combined use of HPLC/ED determination of normetanephrine and metanephrine seems the most effective screening strategy for the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. The older total metanephrine photometric assay is grieved by analytical interferences.[1]


  1. Lessons from an unpleasant surprise: a biochemical strategy for the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. Gardet, V., Gatta, B., Simonnet, G., Tabarin, A., Chêne, G., Ducassou, D., Corcuff, J.B. J. Hypertens. (2001) [Pubmed]
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