General Pathology Catalogue

Browse the catalogue again »

Topography: Morphology:


General Pathology  »   ADRENAL GLANDS (XXIII)  »   Neoplasms (iii)


Museum No: XXIII:iii:15   

Year: 1956


Click thumbnails below for enlargements

Clinical data:

No clinical details are available on this patient.


The adrenalectomy specimen shows a well-defined mass in the medulla, with the cortex appearing as a thin rim of yellowish tissue on the periphery. The mass was soft and friable in consistency, and likely bled easily during the surgery due to increased vascularity.



Because phaeochromocytomas are very uncommon tumours it is not cost-effective to screen every hypertensive patient, but when screening is indicated, the test(s) must be very sensitive so as not to miss a case. The high sensitivity this will obviously result in more false positives than true positives. [It is vital also to take cognisance of the host of drugs that interfere with the test, at either the physiological or analytical level]. The quoted author nicely outlines the rationale for using a fractionated 24hr urine collection and measuring total metadrenalines (metadrenalin, normetadrenalin and methoxytyramine) rather than the traditional vanillylmandelic acid measurement. Only when a “positive” is obtained with this methodology should one then resort to very expensive imaging studies.

Barron J. Phaeochromocytoma: diagnostic challenges for biochemical screening and diagnosis. J Clin Pathol. 2010. 63:669-74.