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Thoracic spine metastasis presenting 18 years after complete resection of a phaeochromocytoma
  1. Lúcia Fadiga1,
  2. Joana Saraiva1,2,
  3. Isabel Paiva1 and
  4. Francisco Carrilho1
  1. 1 Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Department, Centro Hospitalar e Universitario de Coimbra EPE, Coimbra, Portugal
  2. 2 Universidade de Coimbra Faculdade de Medicina, Coimbra, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lúcia Fadiga, lmsfadiga{at}


Phaeochromocytomas are rare neuroendocrine tumours (NET) with malignant behaviour in about 10% of cases. The median time from the diagnosis of primary tumour and bone metastasis is 3.4 years. We report a case of a 66-year-old woman presenting with a hypertensive crisis and back pain. She has a history of a phaeochromocytoma completely resected 18 years before. MRI showed a neoplastic mass on the 10th thoracic vertebra (T10), with fracture and spinal cord compression. The CT-guided biopsy was consistent with metastasis of a NET. Therefore, she was treated with phenoxybenzamine and external beam radiotherapy. However, clinical (dorsal pain) and biochemical (ie, elevated chromogranin A) signs suggested persistent disease and the patient was treated with iodine-131 metaiodobenzylguanidine and T10 kyphoplasty. After 8 years, she remains clinically stable. This case demonstrates that phaeochromocytomas may reveal malignant behaviour several years after diagnosis, and therefore patients should be maintained under long term surveillance.

  • neuroendocrinology
  • surgical oncology
  • endocrine cancer
  • spinal cord
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  • Contributors LF has produced the report and literature review. JS assisted in the production of the report, the literature review and was also involved in the care of the patient. IP assisted in the production of the report and conducted the care of the patient. FC oversaw the creation of the report and was involved in the care of the patient. All the authors approved the final version to be published.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

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