Adrenal| Volume 173, ISSUE 1, P26-34, January 2023

Pheochromocytoma recurrence in hereditary disease: does a cortical-sparing technique increase recurrence rate?

Published:October 10, 2022DOI:



      Posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy is an appealing approach for patients with hereditary pheochromocytoma and lends well to cortex preservation. We sought to examine pheochromocytoma recurrence in patients with hereditary pheochromocytoma in the era of posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy and evaluate the predictors of recurrence.


      Patients with hereditary pheochromocytoma who underwent adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma between 1995 and 2020 with biochemical cure and follow-up >1 year were identified. Recurrence was defined as plasma metanephrines above the upper limit of normal with radiographic evidence of disease in the ipsilateral adrenal bed.


      Seventy-eight hereditary pheochromocytoma patients (median age = 32.4 years; 60.3% women) underwent 114 adrenalectomies for pheochromocytoma. Of these patients, 40 had multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (51.3%), 10 had multiple endocrine neoplasia type B (12.8%), 17 had von Hippel-Lindau disease (21.8%), and 11 had neurofibromatosis type 1 (14.1%). Thirty-eight adrenalectomies (33.3%) were performed before the introduction of posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy and 76 (66.7%) after. Cortical-sparing technique was performed in 62 (54.4%) adrenalectomies, with no difference in its use before and after posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy introduction (P > .05). During a median follow-up of 80.7 months (interquartile range 43.4–151.2), 12 ipsilateral recurrences (10.5%) were identified. There was no difference in recurrence before and after the introduction of posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy or by surgical technique or approach of the entire cohort (P > .05). Recurrence was more common in those with RET M918T mutation (23.5% vs 8.2%; P = .05). Patients with RET M918T mutations had a shorter recurrence-free survival (P = .013). On multivariate analysis, only RET M918T mutation was independently associated with an increased recurrence risk (hazard ratio = 4.30; 95% confidence interval, 1.26–14.66; P = .019).


      The introduction of posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy did not influence the recurrence rate after adrenalectomy for hereditary pheochromocytoma patients. Patients with a RET M918T germline mutation are at increased risk for pheochromocytoma recurrence and may benefit from initial total adrenalectomy.
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