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Abdominal pain with intra-adrenal bleeding as an initial presentation of pheochromocytoma
  1. Astrid Lambrecht1,
  2. Joshua M Inglis1,2 and
  3. Robert Young1,2
  1. 1Intensive Care Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joshua M Inglis; joshua.m.inglis{at}


A 55-year-old man presented with severe right upper quadrant abdominal pain and hypertension up to 231/171 mm Hg on a background of a known adrenal mass, intravenous drug use and recurrent anxiety attacks. CT showed heterogenous lesion of the right adrenal gland but the sudden severe pain remained unexplained. After correction of the blood pressure with analgesia and antihypertensives, the patient developed a type 2 non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction that was treated with aspirin and therapeutic enoxaparin. This resulted in worsening pain and a repeat CT angiogram showed a haemoretroperitoneum around the right adrenal lesion. On review, an occult intra-adrenal haemorrhage was identified on the initial CT scan. Presumably this concealed haemorrhage caused the initial pain crisis and later decompressed into the retroperitoneal space. Raised metanephrine levels confirmed the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma and after preoperative optimisation with phenoxybenzamine, an open right adrenalectomy was performed.

  • hypertension
  • radiology (diagnostics)
  • adrenal disorders
  • adult intensive care
  • surgery

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  • Contributors AL was responsible for the initial draft of the manuscript. JMI and RY undertook revisions. All were involved in care of the patient and have approved the final manuscript.

  • 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.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

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

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