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Catecholamine-secreting paraganglioma: the challenges of perioperative management


An asymptomatic 48-year-old man presented with a right-sided neck mass. A CT scan demonstrated a lesion at the carotid bifurcation and an angiogram showed splaying of the carotid arteries. His plasma metanephrines were raised confirming a catecholamine-secreting paraganglioma. Metaiodobenzylguanidine single-photon emission CT showed focal high tracer uptake in the right of the neck. Histology revealed a tumour, arising within a nerve, composed of oval-shaped cells arranged in nested (zellballen) as well as in trabecular patterns. Immunohistochemistry was positive for neuroendocrine markers chromogranin A, synaptophysin and CD56. Preoperative management included an endocrinologist initiating α-adrenergic and β-adrenergic blockers. Intraoperatively, acute hypertension occurred whenever the tumour was manipulated. Close communication between the surgeons and the anaesthetist allowed for these episodes to be predicted and treated with fast-acting antihypertensives such as sodium nitroprusside. Postoperatively, the patient recovered well and his antihypertensives were discontinued.

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