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01.12.2011 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2011 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2011

Pheochromocytoma presenting as recurrent urinary tract infections : a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2011
Roisin T Dolan, Joseph S Butler, Gerard P McEntee, Maria M Byrne
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1752-1947-5-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

RD conceived the study, acquired patient data and drafted the manuscript. JB critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors contributed intellectual content and have read and approved the final manuscript.



Pheochromocytomas are rare, potentially fatal, neuroendocrine tumors of the adrenal medulla or extra-adrenal paraganglia. Their clinical presentation varies greatly from the classic triad of episodic headache, diaphoresis and tachycardia to include a spectrum of non-specific symptomatology.

Case presentation

A 43-year-old Caucasian woman was referred to us from primary care services with a three-month history of recurrent urinary tract infections on a background of hypertension, latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood and autoimmune hypothyroidism. At 38 years she required insulin therapy. Despite medication compliance and dietary control, she reported a recent history of increased insulin requirements and uncontrolled hypertension with concomitant recurrent urinary tract infections. A renal ultrasound examination, to rule out underlying renal pathology, revealed an incidental 8cm right adrenal mass of both solid and cystic components. A subsequent computed tomography of her abdomen and pelvis confirmed a solid heterogeneous mass consistent with a pheochromocytoma. There were no other features suggestive of multiple endocrine neoplasia. Urinary collection over 24 hours revealed grossly elevated levels of catecholamines and metabolites. Following an open right adrenalectomy, our patient's insulin requirements were significantly reduced and her symptoms resolved. Two weeks post-operatively, an iodine-131-metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy was negative for residual tumor and metastatic disease. Urinary catecholamine and metabolite concentrations were within the normal range at a follow-up six months later.


Pheochromocytoma is a rare catecholamine-producing tumor requiring a high index of suspicion for early diagnosis. Our case report serves to highlight the importance of considering pheochromocytoma as a differential diagnosis in the atypical setting of recurrent urinary tract infections and concomitant autoimmune disease.

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