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Rare disease
Elevated urinary catecholamines and adrenal haemorrhage mimicking phaeochromocytoma
  1. Simon Wordsworth1,
  2. Ben Thomas2,
  3. Neera Agarwal1,
  4. Kate Hoddell1,
  5. Steve Davies1
  1. 1Department of Diabetes & Endocrinology, University Hospital Of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2Department of Nephrology, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK


A 51-year-old woman was admitted with left-sided flank pain initially thought to be renal colic. However, a CT urogram was normal. During the course of the admission the pain persisted and she developed severe sustained hypertension. A repeat CT scan of the abdomen revealed a 5×3 cm left adrenal abnormality consistent with haemorrhage, not seen on the original scan. Further assessment revealed elevated urine catecholamines and a short synacthen test showed a suboptimal cortisol response. The diagnosis was initially considered as a phaeochromocytoma, she received phenoxybenzamine with good resolution of hypertension and was referred for surgical opinion. However, serial urinary catecholamine concentrations returned to within the normal range and the diagnosis was revised to adrenal infarction and haemorrhage due to antiphospholipid syndrome. This case illustrates the importance of recognising adrenal infarction as a potential cause of ‘pseudophaeochromocytoma’.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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